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A significant donation to universities to employ researchers of pediatrics

Published on 21.1.2021
Tampere University
lapsen piirustuksessa lapsi sairaalasängyssä ja hoitaja
The Foundation for Pediatric Research donates €1.35 million to the Universities of Helsinki, Turku, Tampere, Oulu, and Eastern Finland to hire pediatrics researchers. The new method of funding will ensure that several doctors working in clinical practice have the opportunity to carry out scientific research.

“Clinical research is declining, and this is one opportunity to get more of it,” says Professor of Pediatrics Per Ashorn from Tampere University who chairs the Finnish Pediatric Society.

According to Ashorn, hospital doctors do patient work and administrative tasks full-time and have little time to do research during regular working hours. University hospitals have the responsibility to also conduct research, but appropriations for research in the government budget have declined in recent years.

“There is a need to improve research in every field of pediatrics,” Ashorn points out.

Some areas of pediatrics receive more public attention, but according to Ashorn, research is also needed in areas that are not covered by media such as rheumatology, neonatology – i.e. the care of new-born infants – or the treatment of anorexia.

Pediatricians proposed the funding model to the Foundation

The new funding model was proposed by the Finnish Pediatric Society and a network of professors in the field. The aim is to find an improved operating model for hospital work that better enables combining patient care and clinical research.

The development of treatments requires that experts can periodically focus on full-time research.
“We can hire one or probably more part-time clinical researchers in a manner that helps to maintain their employment relationships and salary levels,” says Ashorn.

In Tampere, an open application process will be organised to fill the positions of clinical researcher. The selection committee members come from both Tampere University Hospital and the University. Ashorn anticipates that the researcher or researchers will start working in spring or summer.

Funding is allocated to Tampere University

For the first time, funding has been allocated directly to universities and covers the remuneration of researchers in all fields of pediatric medicine, including pediatrics, pediatric neurology, child psychiatry, pediatric surgery, and adolescent psychiatry.

The donation of the Foundation for Pediatric Research is divided into three years so that annually, the University of Helsinki receives €150.000 and the other universities €75.000.

Professors of pediatrics hope that the new funding model continues, and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Technology agrees.

“We have been aware of problems in clinical medicine for a long time and made efforts to redress them. Establishing clinical researcher posts at the interface between a university and a university hospital has been offered as one solution. The donation from the Pediatric Research Foundation supports the establishment of just such clinical researcher jobs. Extending this model from pediatrics to other specialities would be a great idea,” says Dean Tapio Visakorpi.

The Pediatric Research Foundation has supported pediatric research for more than 50 years in Finland. The Foundation awards grants and rewards merited researchers annually. Over the past 15 years, the Foundation has allocated some €30 million to research and the amount of support has been on the rise in recent years.