Folkhälsan Research Center

One of the main fields of focus at Folkhälsan is scientific research. The Folkhälsan Research Center, responsible for Folkhälsan’s research activities, is an internationally renowned unit with focus on biomedical and health research within programs on genetics and public health.

The Center operates in Biomedicum Helsinki in the medical campus of the University of Helsinki and in Folkhälsan’s main building near the medical campus. The Center accommodates a staff of approximately 200. The total funding for 2022 was 8.718 million euros, of which external financing accounted for 41 percent. Read our Annual Report here.


The Board of the Research Center is responsible for coordinating the overall activities within the Center.

Board Members:

Tom Böhling (Chair)
Christel Gripenberg-Lerche (Vice Chair)
Ilse Julkunen 
Georg Henrik Wrede

Secretary: Niklas Talling
Presenter: Anna-Elina Lehesjoki 

Presence right:
Johan Eriksson
Siv Sandberg

The Operational Board of the Center supports the Director of the Center in coordinating the research programs and in promoting their collaboration.

Board Members:

Anna-Elina-Lehesjoki (Chair) 
Michael von Boguslawski 
Johan Eriksson
Markku Lehto
Eva Roos
Niina Sandholm
Marco Savarese
Heli Viljakainen
Jaana Welin-Haapamäki (Secretary)

Presence right:
Heidi Furu

Folkhälsan Research Center is part of Samfundet Folkhälsan i svenska Finland rf. The Research Center is financed partly by Samfundet Folkhälsan's own funds and support from the Folkhälsan Research Foundation, and partly by external grants.

Director: Anna-Elina Lehesjoki

Administrative Manager: Michael von Boguslawski

GDPR-expert: Outi Elomaa

Science Communicator: Heidi Furu

Executive Assistant: Jaana Welin-Haapamäki

Planner: Carina Brandstetter

Financial Manager: Nina Forss

Economic Administrator: Sebastian Oey

Director: Markku Lehto

Laboratory Manager: Ann-Liz Träskelin

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Ossian Schauman, one of the founders and the first chairman of Folkhälsan, and  his wife Betsy left in their will almost their entire property to "establish and maintain a Swedish institute for theoretical and applied genetic research". The Folkhälsan Institute of Genetics was founded in 1962. The first two decades it operated in close cooperation with the Medical Research Institute Minerva, later also with the Department of Medical Genetics of the University of Helsinki.

In 1990s Folkhälsan decided to broaden its research activities to encompass also public health related research. The Folkhälsan Research Centre was founded in 1994, and in 1997 the Center moved to its own premises in the Folkhälsan Senior House at Mannerheimintie 97. Since 2001 the major part of the Center has been located in Biomedicum Helsinki.


The Center has close collaboration with the University of Helsinki, which is based on a mutual cooperation agreement since 1996. Many of the Group Leaders in the Center are professors at the University of Helsinki. Five research groups are affiliated with the Research Programs of the Medical Faculty, University of Helsinki for the period 2019-2025: Groups Groop, Mäkitie and Tuomi within the Clinical and Molecular Metabolism Research Program and Groups Kere, and Kallijärvi within the Stem Cells and Metabolism Research Program. Anna-Elina Lehesjoki and Hannes Lohi work as HiLIFE Fellows at the Helsinki Institute of Life Science (HiLIFE) at the University of Helsinki in 2017–2020.


Mari LaaksoFlourishing students and families – Enhancing well-being of adolescents and families through positive psychology interventions. 2023.    

Maria Enlund-CerulloVitamin D metabolism in early childhood; associations with genetic variants and biomarkers. 2023. 

Eduard Daura SarrocaRole of cystatin B in the regulation of histone H3 tail proteolysis in the mouse brain : study on the molecular mechanisms of progressive myoclonus epilepsy type 1. 2023.

Riikka PajulahtiIndividual perspective on the world of food: Studies on temperament, food environment, and diet among children. 2023.            

Elina TuovinenPhenotypic and mechanistic clues to inborn errors of immunity. 2023.

Mia ErikssonMelancholia or Not; The Mysterious Differences in Depression: A Study of Pathophysiological Differences Between Depressive Subtypes – Findings from The Helsinki Birth Cohort Study. 2023

Sini SulkamaRisk factors of canine ADHD-like and repetitive behaviour. 2023        


Marjo Nuottamo: Migraine with aura – genetic susceptibility variants. 2022

Emma Dahlström: Obesity and complications in type 1 diabetes  – a genetic and clinical perspective. 2022

Lydia Sagath: Copy number variants in genes causing neuromuscular disorders. 2022

Claudia Ottka: Metabolomics in canine physiology and pathophysiology: A nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy method for dogs. 2022

Fanny Jansson Siegfrieds: Incidence, progression, and regression of diabetic kidney disease in type 1 diabetes. 2022

Julia Niskanen: The genetic background of five canine models of rare human disease. 2022

Sohvi Lommi: Sweet treat consumption in school-aged children - Relationships to excess weight, dental caries and saliva microbiota. 2022 


Petra Loid: Genetic determinants of severe childhood-onset obesity. 2021

Stefanie Hägg-Holmberg: Incidence, risk factors, and prognosis of stroke in people with type 1 diabetes. 2021

Nicolae Mircea Panduru: Urinary biomarkers for the prediction of diabetic nephropathy, cardiovascular disease and mortality in individuals with type 1 diabetes.


Johan Rasmus Alexander Simonsen: Bacterial infections in type 1 diabetes and their association with micro- and macrovascular complications. 2021

Jarno Kettunen: The FINNMODY study : clinical characterization of maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY) in Finland. 2021

Anna Syreeni: Genetic aspects of type 1 diabetes and its complications. 2021

Mridul Johari: Molecular Genetics of Inclusion Body Myositis and Late-Onset Rimmed-Vacuolar Distal Myopathy. 2021



Riikka Sarviaho: Genetics of Canine Epilepsy and Anxiety. 2020

Salla Välipakka: Improving CNV detection from short-read MPS data in neuromuscular disorders. 2020

Janne Purhonen: Molecular, metabolic, and therapeutic aspects of respiratory complex III deficiency: Bcs1l mutant mice as an experimental model. 2020

Milla Salonen: Complex traits, complex results: The genetic, demographic, and environmental factors of cat and dog behaviour. 2020

Heidi Tikkanen-Dolenc: Physical activity and Type1 diabetes: Impact on diabetic complications. 2020

Meharji Arumilli: Bioinformatic approaches to facilitate canine disease genetics and genomics. 2020

Maija Feodoroff: Role of alcohol and smoking for vascular complications in Type 1 diabetes. 2020 


Jayasimman Rajendran: Interventions to improve mitochondrial function in a mouse model of GRACILE syndrome, a complex III disorder. 2019

Svetlana Vakkilainen: Immunodeficiency in cartilage-hair hypoplasia: Correlation with pulmonary disease, infections and malignancy. 2019

Jenni Laitila: Elucidating nebulin expression and function in health and disease

Maria Kaukonen: Genetics of three canine eye disorders. 2019


Riikka Mäkitie: Skeletal and extra-skeletal characteristics of WNT1 osteoporosis. 2018

Mari Muurinen: Silver-Russell syndrome and human genetics: genetic and epigenetic studies. 2018

Jenni Puurunen: Metabolomic characterization of canine behavioural disorders: fearfulness and hyperactivity/impulsivity. 2018

 Chris Fogarty: Biological factors involved in the modulation of bacterial endotoxin-mediated inflammation in type 1 diabetes. 2017

Satu MassinenSpecific readning disorder: cellular and neurodevelopmental functions of susceptibility genes. 2017

Inken KörberMicroglial dysfunction in Cstb-/- mice, a model for the neurodegenerative disorder progressive myoclonus epilepsy of Unverricht-Lundborg type, EPM1. 2017 

Elviira LehtoThe associations between schoolchildren s fruit and vegetable intake and psychosocial factors – shaped by gender, socioeconomic background and an intervention. 2017


Anni EviläNovel genetic defects in titinopathies and other muscular dystrophies. 2016 

Mikko MuonaIdentification of new genetic syndromes with epilepsy by whole-exome sequencing. 2016

Hanna Paatela: Role of dehydroepiandrosterone in high-density lipoprotein-mediated vasodilation and in adipose tissue steroid biosynthesis. 2016

Mariann LasseniusBacterial endotoxins in type 1 diabetes. 2016 

Our Research Center


    • Anna-Elina Lehesjoki

      MD, PhD, Professor, Group Leader

    • Tel:
      +358 50 5058894

    • Contact
    • Jaana Welin-Haapamäki

      Executive Assistant

    • Tel:
      +358 50 539 5194

    • Contact