Author:
Karl Erik Piirimees

Research centres that have received Estonia's largest research funding are starting work

On Monday, 11 September, at 13:00, the opening event of two centres of excellence – for digital bioengineering and for personalised medicine – will take place in the University of Tartu assembly hall. At the event, researchers from the University of Tartu and international partner institutions will present the future plans of the centres. Expectations for the projects will be outlined by Minister of Education and Research Kristina Kallas and representatives of the European Commission, including Signe Ratso, Deputy Director-General for Research and Innovation. All university members are welcome to the event. Registration is open until 6 September. 

The centre for digitalised bioengineering being developed in the project DigiBio brings together bioengineering, IT, big data analysis and machine learning methods. The centre's partners are Tallinn University of Technology and the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability of the Technical University of Denmark. At the opening event, Mart Loog, leader of the DigiBio project and Professor of Molecular Systems Biology at the University of Tartu, will introduce the centre's objectives for the next six years. Professor Lars Nielsen, representing the Danish partners, will talk in more detail about the opportunities for the digitalisation of bioengineering and the application of artificial intelligence in the research of the field. According to Loog, the Danes are the world leaders in this field, so the centre hopes to draw on their experience to make a qualitative leap in both research and the biotech industry. 

Professor Mait Metspalu, Director of the University of Tartu Institute of Genomics, is leading the consortium developing the personalised medicine research centre as part of the TeamPerMed project. According to Metspalu, the centre will enable closer collaboration between different scientific disciplines, from clinical medicine and public health to social and data sciences, and to study all stages of implementing personalised medicine. The consortium's research includes the development of new scientific methods and data tools, as well as clinical trials to analyse and validate the results. Also, the impact of personalised medicine services on society, the economy and public health will be assessed. The project partners are Tartu University Hospital and experts from Europe's leading personalised medicine centres at the University of Helsinki, Erasmus University Rotterdam and its medical centre. Among others, Samuli Ripatti, Director of the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland, will speak at the opening event, sharing experiences from Finland on the clinical testing and application of polygenic risk scores for more accurate disease prevention and diagnosis. 

The day will conclude with a discussion on the role of the Widening actions of the European Research Area in supporting the coherent development of research and innovation across the European Union. The panel discussion chaired by Vice Rector for Research Mari Moora will include Stefan Weiers as a representative of the European Commission and UT researchers. 

The centre for digital bioengineering and the research and development centre for personalised medicine received Estonia's largest research funding at the beginning of this year. The six-year projects are funded by the European Commission and the Estonian state with a total of €60 million. The European Commission supports the projects from the Teaming for Excellence action under the research and innovation funding programme Horizon Europe. The programme supports collaborative projects between European research institutions to deliver cutting-edge research and better integrate it into society and the economy. 

The agenda of the event is available on the University of Tartu website. 

To participate, fill in the registration form by 6 September. 

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