A major grant took Suvi Kuosmanen abroad: Fascinated by cardiovascular genomics

Many important studies on cardiovascular diseases depend on private funding. Researcher Suvi Kuosmanen moved to the United States with her family in July 2019, and is “100% motivated”.

“A thirst for learning, for finding something new.”

This is what motivates Suvi Kuosmanen in her work as a researcher. Kuosmanen has a doctorate in molecular medicine, in cardiovascular genomics – that is, how to read genotypes and what has gone wrong in reading them when the heart becomes ill.

“It’s fascinating to study disease mechanisms from this particular perspective. Each of us has genotype, DNA. How does this genotype translate into various types of cells, and what happens in genes when a disease develops?”

As a researcher, Kuosmanen is motivated by finding more effective treatments for cardiovascular diseases.

“Modern medicine can delay the progress of heart diseases and even mend some things. However, there is no cure for coronary artery disease, for example. There are only ways to fix the damage done by the disease. I hope we will be able to identify heart disease mechanisms that can be stopped – mechanisms similar to those that enable us to cure many types of cancer.”

Heart diseases are costly

Kuosmanen is one of the postdoctoral researchers to whom the Orion Research Foundation has issued its largest possible grant – EUR 50,000 – for research abroad.

Kuosmanen joined Professor Manolis Kellis’s research group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States. Her post as a researcher is scheduled to last for two years.

The study examines disease mechanisms related to heart failure and seeks to find new diagnostic markers for detecting the disease.

“In my opinion, research plays a significant role in reducing human suffering and increasing the efficiency of costly treatments. The treatment of cardiovascular diseases requires an increasing amount of tax revenues. Heart diseases continue to be strongly present in the Finnish genotype, and this is one of the reasons why samples collected from patients in the Kuopio region are being studied at MIT.”

Travelling with the family

Kuosmanen flew to the United States in July with her husband and two school-age daughters – and ten suitcases. She says she wouldn’t have been able to make this change in her life without funding from the Orion Research Foundation and a few other providers.

“None of this study would be possible without funding. Major grants, such as the one bestowed by Orion, have played a key role in enabling our whole family to move abroad.”

The grant also reduces the stress caused by handling everyday expenses.

“Thanks to this major grant, I won’t need to be applying for additional funding all the time. This enables me to give my everything to this study.”


  • The Orion Research Foundation granted EUR 50,000 to Suvi Kuosmanen for postdoctoral research abroad in 2019.
  • For the next two years, Kuosmanen will be working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, under the supervision of Professor Manolis Kellis.
  • The study focuses on disease mechanisms, and on new diagnostic and therapeutic target molecules for heart failure in particular.
  • The research project combines samples from patients and the latest techniques in molecular biology with innovative in-depth analysis methods developed by the research group. The study is about a new approach to research on cardiovascular diseases.
  • Heart failure is a syndrome in which the heart is incapable of maintaining sufficient circulation because of its decreased contraction ability. The disease is often related to other cardiovascular diseases that predispose the patient to heart failure. However, the ultimate reasons behind this vicious circle remain unknown.

Text and photo: Essi Kähkönen

20 August, 2019