Folkhälsan Research Center

One of the two main fields of activities at Folkhälsan is scientific research. The Folkhälsan Research Center, responsible for Folkhälsan’s research activities, is an internationally renowned unit with focus on biomedical and health research within programs on genetics and public health.

The Center operates in Biomedicum Helsinki in the medical campus of the University of Helsinki and in Folkhälsan’s main building near the medical campus. The Center accommodates a staff of approximately 200. The budget of the Center in 2018 was 10.5 million euro, of which 56 percent was competitive external funding.

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Ossian Schauman, one of the founders and the first chairman of Folkhälsan, and  his wife Betsy left in their will almost their entire property to "establish and maintain a Swedish institute for theoretical and applied genetic research". The Folkhälsan Institute of Genetics was founded in 1962. The first two decades it operated in close cooperation with the Medical Research Institute Minerva, later also with the Department of Medical Genetics of the University of Helsinki.

In 1990s Folkhälsan decided to broaden its research activities to encompass also public health related research. The Folkhälsan Research Centre was founded in 1994, and in 1997 the Center moved to its own premises in the Folkhälsan Senior House at Mannerheimintie 97. Since 2001 the major part of the Center has been located in Biomedicum Helsinki.


The Center has close collaboration with the University of Helsinki, which is based on a mutual cooperation agreement since 1996. Many of the Group Leaders in the Center are professors at the University of Helsinki. Six research groups are affiliated with the Reseach Programs of the Medical Faculty, University of Helsinki: Groups Eriksson, Groop and Tuomi within the Research Program for Diabetes and Obesity; Groups Kere, Lehesjoki and Lohi within the Research Program for Molecular Neurology.


The Board of the Folkhälsan Research Foundation is responsible for allocating funding for research activities within the Center.

Board members

Siv Sandberg Chair
Alexander Bargum
Lisbeth Fagerström
Marcus Rantala

Folkhälsan’s Executive Director Georg Henrik Wrede also participates in the meetings of the Board. 

The Board of the Research Center is responsible for coordinating the overall activities within the Center.

Board Members

Mats Brommels (Chair 2019)
Niklas Talling (Secretary)
Georg Henrik Wrede
Ilse Julkunen

Presence right
Johan Eriksson
Anna-Elina Lehesjoki

The Operational Board of the Center supports the Director of the Center in coordinating the research programs and in promoting their collaboration.

Board members

Anna-Elina-Lehesjoki (Chair)
Johan Eriksson
Jukka Kallijärvi
Markku Lehto
Eva Roos
Niina Sandholm
Heli Viljakainen
Jaana Welin-Haapamäki (Secretary)

Director: Anna-Elina Lehesjoki

Financial Coordinator: Nina Forss

Administrative Coordinator: Åsa Rehn

Executive Assistant: Jaana Welin-Haapamäki

Director: Markku Lehto

Laboratory Manager: Teija-Tuulia Toivonen

Laboratory Manager: Ann-Liz Träskelin

Instrument Technician: Hilkka Saarikallio


    • Anna-Elina Lehesjoki

      MD, PhD, Professor, Group Leader

    • Tel:
      +358 29 412 5072

    • Contact
    • Jaana Welin-Haapamäki

      Executive Assistant

    • Tel:
      +358 50 539 5194

    • Contact