The European Commission supports the TransGeno project of UT researchers with 2.5 million euros. This support helps to recruit top researchers to work at the ERA Chair of Translational Genomics of the University of Tartu soon to be created. The research work done at the new chair will advance research in translational genomics, so that in the future, doctors would be able to diagnose diseases as early as possible, thus improving opportunities for treatment.

The project manager, Professor of Pathophysiology of the University of Tartu Sulev Kõks said that their objective is to bring a highly qualified team to the new chair that would engage in cutting-edge translational genomic research.

Translational genomics applies innovations from genomics to diagnostics, prognostics and therapies for cancer, neurological disorders, diabetes and other complex diseases. It enables researchers to understand the molecular genetic components taking part in the early onset of disease. Understanding these processes promotes treatment opportunities based on the underlying causes of disease.

“As Europe’s population is ageing and people must live with chronic diseases for longer, efficient treatment opportunities become more important. Thanks to advances in translational genomics research, diseases can be diagnosed earlier in the future and in the most ideal scenarios, doctors can treat patients before the onset of disease,” said Kõks. He added that the supported project will increase research excellence in Estonia and helps the UT to become a world leader in these efforts.

The future Chair of Translational Genomics is one means to reach the new level. “The new chair will strengthen the permanence and sustainability of the current Centre of Translational Genomics of the University of Tartu. For a chair comprising top-level researchers, it will be easier to forge partnerships with leading institutions to attract top students and researchers from around the world as well as additional funding,” said Kõks.

The new chair is hoped to popularise genomics and invite young people to study STEM sciences, which are the basis of innovation.

According to Kõks, one means of attracting potential students and young researchers to Estonia is the translational genomics specialisation to be created in doctoral studies – the first one of its kind in the entire Eastern Europe.

The partners of the chair will include health sector business clusters that could help to exploit research results. The chair will also engage with medical doctors to educate them on how one form of translational genomics information – clinical genomic data – can be useful in everyday practice.

Vice Rector for Research of the University of Tartu Marco Kirm commented that in the alma mater, future technologies are created in the interaction of different fields of research. The future Chair of Translational Genomics is only one example of how different fields of research come together to achieve a shared goal and create new technologies. “Good researchers and fresh ideas in innovative fields is the competitive advantage of the University of Tartu,” added Kirm.

The European Commission finances the TransGeno project of the University of Tartu from the ERA Chair measure.

Additional information: Sulev Kõks, project manager of TransGeno, UT Professor of Pathophysiology, tel: +372 526 3530, email: sulev.koks@ut.ee.