MET brings together research expertise in medicine, biosciences and technology. We are committed to generating new knowledge and solutions to promote health and well-being and benefit both individuals and the broader society. Our research interests focus on biomedicine, biomaterials, tissue engineering, biomeasurements, bioimaging, computational methods and modelling, cell and molecular biology and clinical medicine. To a great degree, the competitive edge of MET’s research is based on the continuous development of laboratory infrastructures and, for the part of clinical research, on cooperation with the Pirkanmaa hospital district.
Following an assessment completed by an international team of scientists, we established five research centres in 2020. Their respective areas of expertise are Celiac disease, cardiovascular diseases, prostate cancer, child, adolescent and maternal health, and the development of new treatments through a combination of biological and technological expertise. The Regea Cell and Tissue Center, the Finnish Centre for Alternative Methods (FICAM) and the Vaccine Research Center, which carries out clinical trials of vaccines as a paid service, are also housed in our Faculty.
We coordinate the Centre of Excellence in Body-on-Chip Research funded by the Academy of Finland and participate in the Centre of Excellence in Tumour Genetics Research.
In 2020, Covid-19 became a subject of great interest for our researchers. We carried out research projects, among other things, to develop vaccines based on virus-like particles, study the mechanisms underlying the behaviour of the coronavirus, shed light on the role of children in the spread of the outbreak, study the correlation between Covid-19 and pulmonary fibrosis, and identify methods to reduce the impact of the infection.
We offer Finnish-language Degree Programmes in Biotechnology and Biomedical Engineering with a focus on either natural sciences or engineering, and the Finnish-language Licentiate Degree Programme in Medicine. We also offer two English-language master’s programmes. We are the second largest provider of medical specialist training in Finland and also offer training in five dental specialties. In addition, we arrange licensing examinations for foreign-trained doctors who have graduated outside the EU/EEA and are looking to obtain a license to practice medicine in Finland.
Our degree programmes were once again popular among applicants. The number of applicants seeking admission to the Degree Programmes in Biotechnology and Biomedical Engineering grew by 24.6%. The applications received by the Licentiate Degree Programme in Medicine were up by 13.7% from the previous year. Virtually all our applicants who are admitted to pursue a licentiate degree in medicine accept their offer and go on to complete the degree. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, our entrance examinations were primarily divided into two stages, first an online exam followed by a conventional exam for selected applicants.
Medical education was delivered in collaboration with the hospital districts of Pirkanmaa, South Ostrobothnia, and Kanta-Häme and the municipalities located in the catchment area of Tampere University Hospital. A defining feature of our education is the use of activating strategies to support learning. The strategies we used included, for example, problem-based learning, case-based learning and team-based learning. We continued the partial integration of the education we offer in natural sciences, engineering and medicine by focusing in the fields of cell biology, genetics and biochemistry. In addition, we started to design a course that provides an introduction to anatomy and physiology and will be offered to all students enrolled on our Finnish-language degree programmes from the autumn of 2021.
A record number of 175 medical and dental specialists graduated from our Faculty in 2020. One of our key tasks in the year under review was the creation of a consistent nationwide framework for designing programmes leading to medical and dental specialist qualifications and for creating related specialty training curricula. Making the system of assigning experienced physicians to monitor specialist training to become standard practice played an important role. We continued to participate in nationwide cooperation to develop education and, among other things, student admissions, electronic systems (ELSA, KOPI, Exam) and competency-based assessment. Tampere University also played an important role in the national EJOP+20 pilot project that ended in 2020. The project was carried out to develop the advanced leadership courses offered to physicians and dentists undergoing specialty training.
In 2020, we conferred 66 doctoral degrees, exceeding our original target by 40.4%. The Covid-19 pandemic affected the delivery of post-graduate teaching and, for example, doctoral defences were arranged either fully or partially online.
Our two doctoral programmes were combined to create the joint Doctoral Programme in Medicine, Biosciences and Biomedical Engineering, which was introduced in August 2020.
We are actively involved in innovation activities. We enjoyed continued success in the Research to Business funding calls, and our staff filed an impressive number of innovation disclosures and patent applications. Our researchers have continued their active participation in the international SPARK community. One of the spin-off companies involved in SPARK’s activities, StemSight, received a start-up award at Europe’s leading innovation conference BioFIT.
Our researchers have made a positive impact on society through a number of avenues. The director of the Vaccine Research Center frequently visited current affairs programmes in the year of the pandemic, sharing research-based knowledge first of the coronavirus and later of the Covid-19 vaccines. We have both independently and together with other faculties of medicine in Finland called attention to gaps in the legislation governing social welfare and healthcare services that is being drawn up in Finland, especially with regard to the status of universities and university hospitals.