9/21/2012

Researcher Hannes Lohi receives an award worth EUR 75,000 - Canine genetic research also helps understand human diseases

The Orion-Farmos Research Foundation today granted an award of EUR 75,000 to researcher, Professor Hannes Lohi, who has created a unique and outstanding canine disease genomics research programme in Finland. Knowledge obtained through the programme can also be applied in the research of human diseases.

Hannes Lohi, 37, is a research group leader at the University of Helsinki and Folkhälsan Research Centre. The award was granted in recognition of his research achievements in the field of biomedicine. Granted for the first time, the Orion-Farmos Research Foundation Award consists of a personal grant of EUR 15,000 and a research grant of EUR 60,000.

In an open lecture entitled "Hunting new disease genes with man's best friend", delivered today at the University of Helsinki's Biomedicum, Hannes Lohi introduced the canine disease genomics research programme he has created in Finland. Dogs and humans share similarities in disease heritage and disease genomics - in other words, the same diseases are often linked with the same genes.

"Extensive breeding has resulted in hundreds of dog breeds with hundreds of genetic diseases. The tight structure of dog breeds is useful for a genetic researcher as it often helps to discover genes even in smaller study cohorts. A dog is a large animal and physiologically and clinically similar to humans, and therefore canine diseases resemble our diseases and often develop the same way. The environmental factors that have an impact on diseases are also the same for dogs and humans as we share the nature and even nuture. With dogs we can identify new disease genes and mechanisms that will also help understand human diseases," says Lohi. The gene discoveries made by his research group facilitate the development of diagnostics, therapies and medicines.

"I believe that canine research can also contribute a great deal to the study of behavioural and personality characteristics. In other animal species the same variation cannot be so easily observed and they also lack the breed structure so useful for identifying genes," says Lohi.

Active collaboration with dog owners
During the last five years, Hannes Lohi has created an impressive international network with researchers and dog owners. A result of their cooperation is one of the world's largest canine DNA banks that contains more than 40,000 samples from over 250 breeds. Lohi's research is based on voluntary cooperation with dog owners. His enthusiasm has inspired many dog owners and veterinarians to help in collecting critical samples.

"The research undertaken by the young and talented Hannes Lohi has been an international scientific success, and it will generate new projects and cooperation with other research teams in Finland and abroad.  The purpose of this award is to recognise remarkable achievements by young researchers and encourage them towards future accomplishments. Hannes Lohi's exceptionally varied and international research career is a perfect example of this," says Risto Renkonen, Chairman of the Board of the Orion-Farmos Research Foundation and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Helsinki.

About the award
Orion Corporation is celebrating its 95th anniversary this year by supporting research through the Foundation with a larger sum than usual. The target group for the award consisted of professors and adjunct professors up to 45 years of age in the fields of medicine, veterinary medicine, pharmacy and related natural sciences such as chemistry and physics. Any organisation could suggest candidates, but applications were not accepted for the award. Instead, the recipient was suggested by the members of the Board of the Orion-Farmos Research Foundation, who represent the five faculties of medicine in Finland's universities, the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, the Finnish Medical Society Duodecim, the Finnish Chemical Society and the Finnish Pharmaceutical Society.

Orion-Farmos Research Foundation

Hannes Lohi
Born 14 October 1974 in the Rural Municipality of Rovaniemi
Academic degrees:
Oct 2006         Adjunct Professor (Docent), Department of Biosciences, University of Helsinki

Oct 2002         PhD, Department of Medical Genetics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki

Apr 1999         MSc, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Natural Science, University of Oulu

  • Thesis defence in 2002 in the research team of Professor Juha Kere, University of Helsinki, approved with distinction 

  • Productive period as Postdoctoral Fellow in the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada  

  • Recruited by Academician Leena Palotie, Hannes Lohi returned to the University of Helsinki and Folkhälsan Research Centre as an independent research group leader in autumn 2006   

  • In autumn 2006 he was appointed Academy Research Fellow for five years in the Academy of Finland to establish canine genomics in Finland as a new and fascinating field of science
     

  • In early 2008 he was appointed Professor of Veterinary Molecular Genetics in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine  

  • His research group has about twenty members 

 

Other awards and recognitions:

  • Academy Award for scientific courage, Academy of Finland, 2007 

  • Outstanding Young Person of Finland, Junior Chamber International, 2009 

  • Certificate of merit for the research group for the advancement of pet health, FinnExpo 2010 

  • Incentive bonus award by the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, 2010 

  • Saki Paatsama Honorary Recognition, Association of the Finnish Veterinary Practitioners, 2012 

Major grant awards:

  • European Research Council's Starting Grant worth EUR 1.4 million, autumn 2010 

  • Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation's research funding worth EUR 1.2 million together with Professor Juha Kere, spring 2012 

Publications:

  • About 70 publications in various leading scientific journals, including Science, Nat Genet, PLoS Genet 

Other facts:

  • Various positions of trust and evaluator roles in the University of Helsinki and other organisations 

  • A popular public lecturer 

  • Commercialisation of research results through Genoscoper, a Finnish company specialising in DNA-based animal diagnostics 

 

 

Further information:

 

Hannes Lohi
hannes.lohi@helsinki.fi
Tel: +358 400 420 121

Risto Renkonen Olli Peltoniemi
Chairman of the Board, Orion-Farmos Research Foundation Member of the Board, Orion-Farmos Research Foundation
Dean, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki

risto.renkonen@helsinki.fi
Tel: +358 40 553 5219
Vice Dean for Research, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

olli.peltoniemi@helsinki.fi
Tel: +358 40 538 1621

Download photographs of Hannes Lohi (without user code): http: http://materialbank.orion.fi/ English / Public Material Bank / Public Content Bank / Photographs of other persons

 

Published by:
Orion-Farmos Research Foundation

Orion-Farmos Research Foundation distributes its annual investment profits as grants for young researchers and new PhDs for future research activities. In recent years, the Foundation has awarded grants by application amounting to a total of EUR 500,000-650,000 annually to researchers in the fields of medicine, veterinary medicine, pharmacy and related natural sciences such as chemistry and physics. In addition, during the last five years it has provided about EUR 600,000 as support for major medical projects.