Instrumentarium Foundation awards 1.4 million euros in grants to advance breakthroughs in medicine

This year, the Instrumentarium Foundation is distributing grants totaling 1,400,000 euros to researchers in medicine, natural sciences, and engineering. Grants will be awarded to 38 individuals or groups, with three researchers receiving the foundation's largest grant of 150,000 euros each. The foundation also promotes science entrepreneurship, and Lignum Medical Oy has been awarded a 50,000 euro grant for the development of a new treatment for female stress urinary incontinence.

The grants from the Instrumentarium Foundation are targeted towards supporting research in medicine, medical technology, and related natural and economic sciences. The largest grant of 150,000 euros, the Fellow grant, will be awarded to researchers from the University of Turku, Ph.D Jonna Alanko, for research on immune cell navigation in altered tissue environments; from the University of Eastern Finland, Ph.D Aapo Ristaniemi, for research on ligament adaptation in osteoarthritic knees; and from the University of Helsinki, Andrew Erickson, for a research project developing spatial techniques for mapping somatic changes in pre-cancerous and cancerous tissue samples during tumor genesis.

Ph.D. Jonna Alanko emphasizes the important role grants play in demanding medical research. In Alanko's research focusing on dendritic cells, in addition to salary and microscope usage costs, there are also many expenses for various reagents and other practical needs.

"Dendritic cells guard the well-being of our tissues and transport pathogens to lymph nodes to activate our immune defense. Dendritic cells can have a significant impact on the development of various autoimmune diseases. With the Fellow grant, I can finally establish my own research group. With the Fellow grant, I can finally establish my own research group, and to hire one to two doctoral researchers to support me. Without the grant, this would not have been possible, and in-depth research on this important topic would have been significantly delayed, if not impossible. Now, independent scientific research is possible for both me and my developing research group," Alanko acknowledges the support received.

Entrepreneurial “Silmu” grant to stop urinary incontinence

Lignum Medical Ltd, which develops treatments for female stress urinary incontinence, has been awarded a 50,000 euro grant aimed at supporting science entrepreneurship. The "gold standard" for urinary incontinence treatment currently relies on implantation with plastic mesh. However, due to many issues, this standard is becoming less favorable, thus creating a need for new treatment methods. Lignum Medical's nanocellulose hydrogel is a birch-based natural material. Instead of a plastic mesh, the urethra is supported by an injectable gel cushion. With the support of the Instrumentarium Foundation's grant, the company can further develop the treatment based on nanocellulose hydrogel.

"The funding from the Instrumentarium Foundation comes to us at a crucial time, as it allows us to start the product's regulatory process. Our goal is to obtain both FDA approval in the United States and CE approval in Europe by the end of 2028," says one of the founders of Lignum Medical, Professor and Obstetrician-Gynecologist Tomi Mikkola.

New post-doc grant for researchers coming to Finland from abroad

The grants from the Instrumentarium Foundation are a strategic investment in Finnish science and innovation. They create new opportunities for healthcare and address tomorrow's challenges today. In total, the foundation has awarded over 20 million euros in grants to total 1339 researchers or research groups from 1970 to 2024. In 2024, grants totaling 1.4 million euros will be awarded.

"The foundation aims to secure the well-being of Finnish society by supporting medical science and technology, as well as related natural and economic research. Our work is long-term, just like the research in the field," says Petri Bono, Chairman of the Board of the Instrumentarium Foundation.

"This year, in addition to the traditional Fellow, Post-Doc, and Doctoral Grants, we introduced a new category for post-doc researchers coming to Finland from abroad, providing grants for up to two years of research in Finland. With this, we aim to strengthen Finland's attractiveness as a venue for foreign researchers' post-doc periods," Bono points out.

Petri Bono regrets that despite good topics and high-quality applications, inevitably some projects miss out on funding. The foundation receives hundreds of applications annually, of which only just under 10% can be funded. The 2024 grant round received over 400 applications, with a total requested amount exceeding 15 million euros.

"In tough competition, even a high-quality application can unfortunately miss out on funding. In the selection process, we also value diversity as an important factor. We are committed to inclusivity and value the diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives of applicants."

This year, eight researchers received a Post-Doc grant totaling 360,000 euros, and a total of 540,000 euros was awarded to 26 researchers for doctoral work.

The list of 2024 given grants (in Finnish)


Instrumentariumin tiedesäätiö 14.2.2024