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 Folkhälsan Research Foundation is responsible for allocating funding for research activities within the Center.

Board members

Siv Sandberg Chair
Alexander Bargum
Lisbeth Fagerström
Marcus Rantala

Folkhälsan’s Executive Director Georg Henrik Wrede also participates in the meetings of the Board. 

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

Board Members

Tom Böhling (Chair)
Ilse Julkunen (Vice Chair)
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)
Johan Eriksson
Jukka Kallijärvi
Markku Lehto
Eva Roos
Niina Sandholm
Heli Viljakainen
Tiinamaija Tuomi
Jaana Welin-Haapamäki (Secretary)

Director: Anna-Elina Lehesjoki

Financial Manager: Nina Forss

Economic Administrator: Sebastian Oey

Executive Assistant: Jaana Welin-Haapamäki

Science Communicator: Simon Granroth

GDPR-expert: Outi Elomaa

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.


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

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

Jenni Laitila: Elucidating nebulin expression and function in health and diesease. 2019 

Maria Kaukonen: Genetics of three canine eye disorders. 2019 

Sajan Raju: Salivary microbiota - how to measure it and its associations with body size and antimicrobial use. 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. 2016

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

Folkhälsan 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