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Finland’s first professorship for individualized cancer treatment

The purpose of the new professorship is to promote cancer research that moves patient care towards a more individualized direction.

On the World Cancer Day of 4 February it was announced that Finland’s first professorship for individualized cancer treatment will be established in connection with the University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Hospital.

”A professorship dedicated to individualized cancer treatment is a rarity in the world. We are particularly pleased to be the first in Finland to receive such a professorship,” says Anne Remes, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Helsinki. “Our expectation is that in the future, cancer treatment will develop into an even more individualized direction.  Individualized treatment that precisely targets the characteristics of cancer improves treatment outcomes and the effectiveness of health care.”

The professorship is permanent, and its first five years will be funded by donations from three pharmaceutical companies, Bayer, Novartis and Roche.

Teaching, scientific research, and extensive collaboration

The professorship will be established in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Helsinki to promote individualized cancer treatment through teaching, scientific research, and extensive collaboration.

The professor will lead basic and translational research in the treatment of individualized cancer care and promote the introduction of related clinical applications.

The aim is to develop cancer diagnostics and promote drug research and informed decision-making. In addition, collaboration between different stakeholders both in Finland and internationally will play an important role.

Often significant research topics arise from patient care

The future professor, who will be selected through an open application, will also be selected to the secondary post of Chief Physician for the Cancer Center of Helsinki University Hospital.

“It is important that the professor also works at the university clinic because often significant research topics arise from patient care,” says Johanna Mattson, Director at the Helsinki University Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Correspondingly, the application of new research results into patient care is accelerating.”

A unique opening

Minna Anttonen, Executive Director for the Association of Cancer Patients in Finland, considers the establishment of a professorship a great indication that Finland has confidence in the possibilities of individualized cancer treatment.

“We believe here that patient care will be individualized in the near future. This gives patients hope. In addition, the professorship established with donations is a sign that Finnish research infrastructure is valued. Helsinki University Hospital and the University of Helsinki have already for a long time been committed to developing cancer research, and this is reflected in this unique opening,” she says.

Photo: iStock