Two New Academy Professors to the University of Turku
​Riitta Lahesmaa, who was appointed to the post of an academy professor, is the director of Turku Centre for Biotechnology and leads a research group in Turku, which is part of the Academy of Finland's Centre of Excellence in molecular systems immunology and physiology.

​The Academy of Finland has decided to fund eight new research posts as Academy Professor. Two of the professorships were awarded to the University of Turku. The aim of the Academy of Finland’s funding for research posts as Academy Professor is to facilitate full-time scientific research for internationally leading-edge researchers. Academy Professors are expected to greatly contribute to the progress of research in their fields and develop a creative research environment.

Riitta Lahesmaa studies the development and functions of T cells. T cells play a crucial role in protecting the body against pathogens and cancer. Lahesmaa aims to study the mechanisms that lead to the differentiation of human T cells and why disturbances in this process may lead to diseases. The research will utilise comprehensive genome-wide analysis methods, cutting-edge computational data analysis and biobanks. The aim is to increase our understanding of the mechanisms underlying immunological diseases and find new, improved methods of therapeutic intervention.

Virpi Lummaa studies natural selection in contemporary human populations. During her term as Academy Professor, Lummaa will investigate how the modern environment itself fuels human evolution and how demographic shifts to low birth and death rates affect the opportunity for selection or specific trait selection. She will use longitudinal demographic data from Finland spanning 350 years and more than twelve generations to look at how the strength and direction of selection on key fitness traits may have changed with the modernisation of societies. At present, Lummaa is reader in evolutionary biology at the University of Sheffield, UK. She will transfer to the University of Turku for her Academy Professorship.

JM/MR
Photo: Hanna Oksanen

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Published date 6/1/2015 12:35 AM ,  Modified date 6/1/2015 12:37 PM

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