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Pediatric Research Center

The Pediatric Research Center currently represents almost 30 research groups carrying out clinical, translational and basic research in pediatrics in the University of Helsinki, Finland. Our mission is to promote research, to communicate the latest research results to physicians, patients and the general public, and to serve as a reference guide for researchers and companies seeking academic collaboration.  We warmly invite students and young physician-scientists to join our growing team!

Meilahti, here we come

Starting from January 2017, Psychology will be part of the Medical Faculty and will physically move into the Meilahti campus and Haartman Institute (H3) in early fall next year. For over 10 years, Psychology was part of the Faculty of Behavioral Sciences, and before that, when I started my studies in Helsinki, part of the Faculty of Arts. Many may wonder why we are making this move and why (only) now. Psychologists themselves took the first initiative. This initiative was inspired by the profiling action of psychological and philosophical sciences in Finland that was undertaken by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture last year. Psychology in Helsinki is heavily leaning towards life sciences. Hence, the hop to Medical Faculty seems very natural. It strengthens our already existing profile in behavioral life sciences and integrates training of health care professionals into one single unit. There certainly exists much pros – and very little cons. (Read more)

The Enigma of Vitamin D in Infancy – is more better?

We have for the four years been busy with a large intervention trial VIDI (Vitamin D Intervention in Infants) in which we compare the effects of two different vitamin D substitution doses, 10 yg/d and 30 yg/d, to infants between 2 weeks and 2 years of age. Central outcome parameters are growth, bone health, frequency of infections and symptoms of allergy, and neurocognitive development. (Read more)

Translational research

When I was a young and idealistic medical student I set my aims high. My long term plan was to become a medical scientist who could provide new treatments for incurable diseases. Retrospectively, I (and perhaps even my supervisor) was quite naive when starting an ambitious cell biology project aiming to understand the cause of type 1 diabetes by conducting experiments on human fetal pancreatic cells in the former living room of Prof. Hallman (Skidicum nowadays). Nevertheless, I managed to somehow end up with some results that made sense and started to understand a little about Translational Research. (Read more)

A good clinician and a good researcher?

As a researcher with a background in clinical pediatrics and working as a clinician, I am often perplexed by the complexity of modern biomedicine. Instead of being intimidated by the progress of basic science, we should in my opinion be in awe of the vast possibilities we have at our disposal to tackle the problems we face in the clinic every day. To use the buzzword currently practically required in successful grant applications, a translational approach combining bench and bedside research has never been more feasible than today. At the same time, medical training provides a researcher with relatively limited skills in laboratory medicine. It is therefore most often the case that clinician researchers are compelled to shed their illusions of omnipotency and collaborate with various experts in a true interdisciplinary fashion. By no means do I mean to imply that clinician researchers cannot or should not educate themselves in biomedical research, quite the opposite. Nonetheless, a multi-faceted approach is most often achieved by a team of scientist from a variety of complementary disciplines. (Read more)

Why to look for a postdoc position abroad?

After a young researcher has defended his/her thesis, a critical question is what to do next. For an MD, PhD this is in many cases related to clinical training, whether the researcher already has a clinical speciality or whether he/she should either complete or start his/her clinical training. Another option may be to continue with research in the same research group, to switch to another local research group or to start to look for a postdoc position abroad. The readiness of young Finnish researchers to go abroad for a postdoc period has definitely decreased over the last 20-30 years, although the outlook for financial support for such a step has actually increased with one exception. Previously the universities had the possibility to pay part-time salary to clinical lecturers, who went abroad for a postdoc period provided that the researcher committed to stay as a clinical lecturer for twice the time he/she spent abroad. On the other hand several foundations, including the Pediatric Research Foundation, nowadays have special funds allocated to support foreign postdoc periods. (Read more)