Areas of expertise
Professor Laura Airas obtained her medical degree at the University of Turku, in Turku, Finland. After finishing her PhD on immunology and cell biology, she specialized in neurology, obtaining a neurology consultant status in 2001 and a docentship in neurology in 2007. She founded her own research group in 2002, studying the immunology of pregnancy in MS. Today she serves as a professor of Neuroimmunology at Turku University. She leads a research group whose main aim is to elucidate the pathological mechanisms of progressive MS by using a multi-modal approach including PET-imaging, advanced MRI imaging, and soluble biomarker analysis. Laura Airas is an experienced clinician, and also well connected with scientists of different backgrounds (PET, metabolomics, immunology) and with excellent track records. She spends half of her professional time as a clinical neurologist, consulting for MS-patients at Turku University hospital, and also actively participates in randomised clinical trials for MS. Laura Airas has authored over 130 peer-reviewed articles in international journals. Funding for the group comes from the Finnish Academy, foundations and industry. In 2015 she received an international Grant for Multiple Sclerosis Innovation (GMSI) award, and in 2020 she received an international Progressive Multiple Sclerosis Alliance award. In 2016-2017 she spent the academic year as a visiting professor at Yale University, and was appointed an adjunct professor at Yale school of medicine in 2019.
As a Professor of Neuroimmunology Airas is responsible for neuroimmunological education at the Medical school of the University of Turku. Currently she has under supervision 10 PhD, 4 master’s thesis and 2 extended studies medical students. She participates regularly in domestic and international scientific congresses as a presenter and organizer.
The major goal of research in Airas group is to understand the pathobiology of multiple sclerosis using noninvasive or minimally invasive imaging methods – particularly MRI and PET. The group develops and performs experiments with new MRI techniques and new PET ligands on state-of-the-art imaging equipment housed in the Turku PET Center, to elucidate the biological underpinnings of imaging abnormalities. This will help understand how such abnormalities relate to clinical disability. Corollary goals of the research are to adapt new imaging and soluble biomarker techniques as biologically (and hopefully clinically) relevant outcome measures in both clinical trials and routine patient care, and to apply them to other inflammatory diseases of the central nervous system.