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Translational medicine for personalised treatment

The Bioinformatics Center at the University of Eastern Finland (UEF), led by Virpi Ahola, is developing new applications for analysing biomedical and multimodal data.

Translational medicine uses basic research in clinical trials, but also patient samples and disease models to identify disease mechanisms and drug targets. The research approach is interdisciplinary, which provides a good starting point for research but also improves treatments for patients.

“What is delaying the era of translational medicine is that we simply don’t know enough. The idea behind combining several different data sources is to obtain more information. The integration is very much computational, and requires CSC – IT Center for Science’s resources and infrastructures like ELIXIR.”

Ahola is a tireless advocate for the openness and reuse of data, and for the development of methods and infrastructures that facilitate and encourage this.

Referring to Biocenter Finland, Ahola says that more should be done together. The centre brings together seven biocentres from different Finnish universities. It should not be impossible to increase collaboration between different biocentres and internationally, for example through the Finnish ELIXIR node CSC.

“ELIXIR is an avenue for us to network and learn from the experiences of other bioinformatics core facilities, and to be part of discussions where research infrastructure issues are brought up and new initiatives are taken.”

Because new technologies produce large and complex data sets, research infrastructures should also include data science experts, not research equipment alone.

“To make effective use of data, the computing capacity offered by CSC, for example, is not enough. Data processing and reuse also requires staff with expertise in the field. As I see it, better resourcing and systematic collaboration between biocentres could substantially facilitate and improve the processing, integration and reuse of large omics data sets.”

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CSC – IT Center for Science

is a non-profit, state-owned company administered by the Ministry of Education and Culture. CSC maintains and develops the state-owned, centralised IT infrastructure.





builds infrastructure in support of the biological sector. It brings together the leading organisations of 21 European countries and the EMBL European Molecular Biology Laboratory to form a common infrastructure for biological information. CSC – IT Center for Science is the Finnish centre within this infrastructure.