Research

Howard Jacobs’ new project investigates the molecular thermobiology of mitochondria

Professori Howy Jacobs
Professor of Molecular Biology, Howard Jacobs from Tampere University has received a €509,690 grant from the Academy of Finland for a research project called Molecular Thermobiology of Mitochondria, which investigates the effects of heat on mitochondria.

In previous research, Jacobs and an international team of researchers have shown that active mitochondria within human cells are maintained at a much higher temperature than their surroundings, typically close to 50°C.

“In the new project we will investigate some of the ramifications of this finding for cellular functions, in particular in regard to health and disease,” Jacobs says.

Jacobs, an internationally renowned researcher of mitochondria, leads the Academy of Finland-funded FinMIT Centre of Excellence at Tampere University, which concentrates on analysing the structure, function and regulation of mitochondria. He has studied mitchondrial disorders for more than 20 years. In 2004, he received the European Union’s prestigious Descartes science prize.

The Research Council for Biosciences, Health and the Environment of the Academy of Finland also granted €450,000 to a research consortium led by Mataleena Parikka, which is investigating new anti-biofilm treatment strategies in the battle against tuberculosis. The other partners in the consortium are Professor Seppo Parkkila from Tampere University and Docent Adyary Fallarero from the University of Helsinki who both received €150,000 for research.

The two-year project analyses the composition of biofilms that form in tuberculosis and develop different biofilm-targeting strategies that make the bacteria more vulnerable to antibiotics. The main aim of the project is to develop an adjunctive treatment that will significantly shorten the required treatment times.

The Academy of Finland’s Research Council for Biosciences, Health and the Environment granted funding for 91 Academy projects, with a total of 116 subprojects. The funding totals around €44,5 million. 22% of the applications received funding.

In making its funding decisions, the Research Council wanted to support basic research in its fields and emphasised the scientific quality of the projects. Other key criteria included the impact and scientific renewal of the research.
In the September 2018 call, 25 million euros in additional funds were earmarked for the Academy of Finland in the state budget. The sum was used to support the younger generation of researchers. The Research Council for Biosciences, Health and the Environment used the special budget authority reserved for the younger generation on 22 projects.

Academy of Finland’s press release 22 May 2019

Photograph: Jonne Renvall