In the second part of this article-series we would like to introduce the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Technology, Tampere University, Professor Seppo Parkkila. Seppo brings in a wide perspective on medicine, and of the whole the faculty to our steering group.
Seppo’s own research is focused on the very diverse group of carbonic anhydrases enzymes. The main function of these enzymes is maintaining the acid-base-homeostasis in the body. Although the current focus of his research is in tuberculosis (article in Finnish), Seppo and his group have also been working on deciphering the roles of various of CA-isoforms in the brain and central nervous system.
Collaboration in brain tumour-research started two decades ago, with Hannu Haapasalo (Fimlab) and Joonas Haapasalo, when one of the CA’s, which is a hypoxia (low oxygen level) marker, was found to correlate with the malignancy of brain tumours. This collaboration has produced 15 research articles on the subject, and CA-9 can still be used as a diagnostic marker for the malignancy of tumours.
There are also three isoforms of CA, which do not exhibit any enzymatic activity. Dr. Ashok Aspatwar, who works as a post doctoral fellow in Seppo’s group, has been studying these isoforms in zebrafish. They have been found in the central nervous system, having an essential role in the development of the organism, and the lack of them causes severe movement disorders in the fish.
Seppo says, that traditionally several research areas, such as cancer and immunology have been widely investigated in Tampere. However, in recent years the role of neuroscience research has also significantly increased. With the founding of Neurocenter Finland and its regional hub Tampere Brain & Mind, neurosciences could very well be the next focus area in Tampere.
Tampere is well known for its openness to multidisciplinary research, and this is clearly visible in the field of neurosciences as well. Research areas include topics from neuropathology to clinical neurosciences, and from basic research to engineering. One could claim that such a wide variety of research topics would spread the resources too thin. However, with the Neurocenter Finland’s network spanning across six cities, we should see it as a strength. By increasing national collaboration throughout the different fields of research, we can increase the research volume in these niche areas. Of course, everything relies on the activity of the researchers themselves, but an easy access to the national network definitely helps, and speeds up initiating new research collaboration, Seppo says.