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Contact information

Faculty Office:
P.O. Box 66
00014 University of Helsinki

Visiting address:
Agnes Sj÷bergin katu 2

phone +358-(0)2941-911
fax +358-(0)2941-57161

Annual Review 2015


Nova University Network


Strategy 2013-16


Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine safeguards the health and wellbeing of animals and people. It is the only institution of higher education in Finland to educate veterinary surgeons. The Faculty’s operations are located at the Viikki Campus and Saari in Mäntsälä.


Professor Hannu Korkeala

Hannu Korkeala, photo Michel Houet

Professor Hannu Korkeala has been granted the degree of Doctor honoris causa of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Liège, Belgium.

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Can crowdfunding provide new opportunities for research?


Crowdfunding is a relatively new concept in Finland and abroad. In summer 2016, the Finnish Mesenaatti.me service organised a campaign to crowdfund science, with support from the Kone Foundation. Dr Anna Hielm-Björkman's research group from the University of Helsinki was a pilot participant in the campaign and the first University research group to seek funding through the Mesenaatti.me service.

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Marcus Vinicius Candido wins ESCG award for best scientific poster at the ECVIM-CA congress

Marcus Candido

Marcus Vinicius Candido's, DVM, MSc, abstract about "Breed association of endoscopically diagnosed gastric neoplasia and metaplasia in purebred dogs" was awarded as best poster by the European Society of Comparative Gastroenterology (ESCG) at the Annual Congress of the European College of Veterinary Internal Medicine – Companion Animals (ECVIM-CA) in Gothenburg, Sweden, in September 2016.

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Unique health survey of Finnish cats reveals common and breed-specific illnesses


A research group led by Professor Hannes Lohi at the University of Helsinki and Folkhälsan Research Centre has conducted a unique study on the health of Finnish cats. The most typical health issues in cats have to do with the mouth, skin and kidneys. In addition, the research group identified nearly 60 illnesses specific to particular breeds. These results can be used to improve cat welfare and develop breeding programmes, and they provide a solid foundation for future genetic research, particularly on breed-specific diseases. The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science, on 29 August 2016..

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Canine hereditary disorders are more widespread than previously indicated


Genoscoper Ltd. has published in cooperation with the researchers of University of Helsinki and Pennsylvania (USA) so far the most comprehensive study on canine hereditary disorders. The research brings new information about genetic disorders causing diseases in different dog breeds. The results can be utilized both in dog breeding and veterinary diagnostics. The study was published on PLOS ONE on 15 August 2016. .

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Solving the mystery of "botox", the world's strongest neurotoxin

Miia Lindström

Why is the Clostridium botulinum bacterium lethal? Professor Miia Lindström heads a study intended to determine why and under which circumstances this bacterium, which can live in soil or water, produces the deadly neurotoxin, botulin, also known as botox. Lindström has received both a European Research Council Consolidator Grant as well as an Academy of Finland project grant for her research projects, which will launch in late 2016, lasting four and five years, respectively.

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New insights into human rare disorders with dogs


Professor Hannes Lohi's research group has discovered three novel canine genes for Caffey, Raine and van den Ende-Gupta syndromes. Research reveals close similarities of the canine models of human rare disorders and highlights the potential of comparative research approach for the development of rare disease diagnostics and treatments. Gene discoveries will benefit also veterinary diagnostics and breeding programs. The study was published on PLOS Genetics on 17 May 2016.

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Finnish study confirms link between Zika virus and fetal brain damage


Zika virus can be detected in blood samples taken from a pregnant woman while brain damage is developing, as well as isolated in cell culture from the brain tissue of the fetus, establishes a Finnish-American study led by Olli Vapalahti, professor of zoonotic virology at the University of Helsinki.

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INNUENDO – a new cross-sectorial platform for genomics integration in surveillance of food-borne pathogens


Multinational outbreaks of food-borne pathogens cause considerable threats to European public health. Implementing a whole genome sequencing (WGS) in routine surveillance and outbreak investigations is becoming a strategic goal for many public health authorities all over the world. With this in mind a group of researchers have developed an initiative called INNUENDO, which aims to deliver a cross-sectorial framework of bacterial WGS integration in routine surveillance and epidemiological investigations. The project is coordinated by Assistant Professor Mirko Rossi from the University of Helsinki, and co-financed by a Thematic Grant of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

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PhD Defence: The peripheral α2-adrenoceptor antagonist MK-467 attenuated the early cardiovascular effects of dexmedetomidine in dogs

Dr Flavia Restitutti's PhD research investigated the interaction of two substances used in veterinary anaesthesia. Dexmedetomidine is commonly used in small animal practice due its potent sedative effects. It has some side effects, such as reduction of heart rate and changes in blood pressure. MK-467 was able to alleviate these cardiovascular changes without markedly affecting sedation.

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PhD Defence: High-resolution typing methods such as whole-genome sequence needed to establish the correct epidemiology of human C. jejuni infections


During the last 40 years, Campylobacter has emerged as the number one cause of human gasteroenteritis in the developed world, of which C. jejuni accounts for the majority of cases. Broiler chickens has traditionally been considered as the reservoir of importance for public health, but evidence suggests that other source, both known and unknown, are relevant. DVM Ann-Katrin Llarena's research for PhD thesis aimed at evaluating the usefulness of three metabolic markers in source attribution, resolved a Campylobacter outbreak using whole-genome sequence and characterized the dynamics and epidemiology of C. jejuni in Finnish chickens and barnacle geese. Llarena discovered that the whole-genome sequence is the most effective method to trace C. jejeuni infections in humans.

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PhD Defence: Bartonella and other arthropod borne diseases in dogs and moose


The incidence of arthropod-borne infections is increasing worldwide and Fennoscandia is no exception. Ixodes ricinus, the sheep or castor bean tick, which is the most common tick in North-Western Europe, is widely distributed in Finland. Cristina Pérez Vera's research for PhD thesis aims at investigating the epidemiology of selected tick- transmitted infections, with special interest in those caused by Bartonella spp, among dogs. She also studied whether moose carry this infection and if the deer ked (moose fly) can transmit it. In her study, Pérez Vera discovered that dogs with Bartonella infection are usually seronegative and have similar clinics signs as dogs with other tick borne diseases. Dogs living in Finland are exposed to tick borne diseases, but so far, no Finnish dog has been diagnosed with Bartonella spp infection. In contrast, a large number of Finnish moose are infected with this organism.

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PhD Defence: More mutagenic and oestrogenic activities of commercially processed food items and water samples found in Nigeria than in Finland

Commercially processed food, drinking-water sources and effluent waters discharged into bodies of water from wastewater treatment plants are putative but yet poorly delineated sources of human exposure to chemical mutagens and oestrogen-like chemicals globally. MSc Matthew Omoruyi's research for PhD thesis aims at determining the current situation both in a European country (Finland) and an African country (Nigeria) for comparison. In his study Omoruyi discovered that the Nigerian food items and drinking-water sources are more likely to contain mutagenic and oestrogenic chemicals than their Finnish counterparts.

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Prominent figures will be inaugurated during the doctoral conferment ceremony of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

Doctoral conferment

The second doctoral conferment ceremony of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, of the University of Helsinki, will take place on 5 June 2015. 68 Doctors of Veterinary Medicine and Doctors of Philosophy will have their ranks bestowed on them at the ceremony, as well as 10 Honorary Doctors and one Jubilee Doctor. The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine has chosen to bestow Honorary Doctorates on ten individuals distinguished in their own fields, among them the President of the Republic of Finland, Sauli Niinistö. An Honorary Doctorate is the most the esteemed distinction that the University can bestow.

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Public defence: Intestinal microbiota is unique to each human being and individuals can be separated by their specific faecal protein profiles


Human physiological processes are complemented by those of the microbiota, the collection of all microbes living in and on our body. The human intestinal microbiota is one of the most prominent representative and many associations with a wide spectrum of human diseases have been identified. These genes provide an enormous additional genetic potential to the human genome, but little is known about which of these genes can be expressed into proteins and the conditions under which the protein synthesis occurs. The focus of MSc Carolin Kolmeder thesis work was to increase the knowledge of the biological processes taking place in-vivo, and to establish a baseline of these functions in the intestine of a healthy adult.

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Novel neurodegenerative disease and gene identified with the help of man's best friend

Lagotto Romagnolo

A breakthrough study performed in an international collaboration led by Professor Tosso Leeb from the University of Bern and Professor Hannes Lohi from the University of Helsinki together with the veterinary neurologists and neuropathologists at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine has identified a gene mutation that causes a novel type of neurodegenerative disease in dogs. The results of the study shed light into the function of neurons, provide a new gene for human neurodegenration, and may aid in developing better treatments for neurodegenerative disorders. The study was published in the prestigious journal PLoS Genetics on 15.4.2015.

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A new book on the lactating sow available

Lactating sow book

This new book published on 2015 shares up-to-date knowledge on the gestating and lactating sow. Professor Olli Peltoniemi and DVM Claudio Oliviero from the Department of Production Animal Medicine have contributed to the new book with the chapter on housing, management and environment during farrowing and early lactation.

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Ingrid Hang received a post doctoral research grant from Finnish Culture Foundation

Ingrid Hang

Ingrid Hang (DVM, PhD) has been awarded a one-year post doctoral research grant of 28.000 EUR from the Finnish Culture Foundation. The grant was announced on the 27 February at the Annual Gala of the Foundation.

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A new inherited disease identified in calves of the Ayrshire breed


The research group led by Professor Magnus Andersson has discovered a new inherited disease that causes ptosis, retarded growth, intellectual disability and mortality in Ayrshire calves. The disease proved to be associated with a mutation in UBE3B gene. Of the 129 tested Ayrshire AI bulls recently used in Finland, 17% carried the mutation. Moreover, UBE3B mutation may be connected to AH1 haplotype, which is associated with reduced fertility and has a carrier frequency of 26.1% in the North American Ayrshire population. The study was published in BMC genomics journal on 12 October 2014.

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Defence: High-protein diet plays a key role in changing the intestinal microbiota and its metabolic activity, possibly leading to intestinal inflammation and diarhhoea


Knowledge about the modulation of canine intestinal microbiota, bacteria-derived metabolic products, intestinal inflammatory status and adaptive exocrine pancreatic secretion in response to macronutrients is limited. However, such information is necessary to investigate further the complex interplay between host and intestinal microbiota in response to changes of diet. DVM Ingrid Hang's reasearch for PhD thesis focuses upon the influence of dite on intestinal microbiota, bacteria-derived metabolic products and pancreatic enzymes in dogs. Hang's research suggests that a high-protein greaves-meal diet can be associated with elevated inflammation status in dogs.

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Professor Willem M. de Vos thrives with young talents

Willem de Vos

Professor Willem M. de Vos was included in the recent Thomson Reuters list of the world's most influential scientific minds of 2014. We decided to find out what is his research all about.

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