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Finland Commits to $6.7M in Biomedical Research Infrastructure Projects

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — Finland will spend €5 million ($6.7 million) toward a national project that connects the country’s biobanking, bioinformatics, and translational research resources, and also connects them to a much larger EU effort to integrate resources in these three areas.

Finland's Biomedinfra — short for biomedical research infrastructures – will link to the BBMRI, or Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure; ELIXIR, the European Life-science Infrastructure for Biological Information; and EATRIS, which seeks to translate results for diagnostic and biomarker uses.

Finland's Ministry of Education and Culture, through the Academy of Finland, will contribute €4 million toward the effort. The remaining €1 million comes from three participating institutes — the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland, or FIMM, at the University of Helsinki; CSC-IT Center for Science, a ministry-run provider of IT support and resources for academia, research institutes and companies; and the National Institute for Health and Welfare.

The funding, announced Wednesday, follows a three-year, pan-European planning phase, as well as a €2 million Finnish pilot project for Biomedinfra completed in 2010.

Biomedinfra will continue to be developed along three principles — improving biobanking infrastructures for epidemiological, biomedical and clinical research; high-performance computing infrastructure for facilitating next-generation biomedical data analysis needs; and translational infrastructure focusing on the application of biobanks to advance diagnostics and personalized medicine.

"Even though these funds are still modest in the European scale, they represent significant new funding on top of a strong existing scientific base and in some cases decades of national investment," Olli Kallioniemi, director of FIMM and coordinator of Biomedinfra, said in a statement.

"Biomedinfra is therefore a very timely effort, leverages Finnish strengths optimally and builds important links between these key European infrastructures," he added.

Anu Jalanko, head of Public Health Genomics Unit, THL, said in the statement that the funding is needed to build Finland’s national biobank network, BBMRI.FI, in anticipation of new legislation that is expected to become enact in Finland next year governing the procedures and practices of biobanks.

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