UT to invest 6.1 million euros into new development projects
University of Tartu has moved closer to becoming a world-class institution with the selection of three projects out of 23 that have the highest potential for international success. The projects will receive 6.1 million euros between 2011 and 2015 from the University of Tartu development fund. While this kind of developmental boost from university is unprecedented in Estonia, it is very common in many of the European and American top universities.
The funding will be used to create research centers for European Union - Russian Studies; genomics transfer and disease modelling.
The selected projects constitute a major development for the university and hold a promise to create internationally clearly distinguishing niche fields of research that might become attractors both for students and researchers).
Rector Alar Karis stressed that such a large funding for development projects in Estonia is unprecedented, stating that “The university created the development fund to provide opportunity for making fields with high success potential a reality and the selected projects are subject to high hopes,”
The funding is to be received in a five year period. Results will be evaluated in the end of the second project year by the soon-to-be formed university senate. The decision whether to continue funding will be based on the senate’s decision.
Center of Excellence for European Union – Russian Studies will be pooling leading scientists and experts from several fields in order to carry out in-depth research of the relationship and interactions between European Union and Russian Federation. The center is to receive 1.6 million euros from the development fund and will be lead by Piret Ehin, senior researcher of University of Tartu Institute of Government and Politics.
The new Genomics Transfer Center will merge three different research centers of UT (genomics, computer science and translational medicine) to create (based on UT’s Estonian Genome Center) a new database concerning transgenerational transportation of genetic information. The database is to be used to better understand the essence of human personality and reasons for illness.
This goal will require collecting genome structure and function data from 1000 Estonians and cooperation with university scientists competent in the field of personality psychology. The disease markers found through this information will help doctors to diagnose diseases earlier and provide better treatment. The same database will help people to make more informed decisions about their life (such as career choices and health behaviour. The center will be lead by proffessor Ursel Soomets.
The planned Center of Excellence for Disease Modelling will be the only one in Nordic region and is to be based on the infrastructure of National Institute for Translational and Clinical Research. It’s goal will be to develop rat-based disease models and imaging technologies, providing scientists and the biotechnology sector new possibilities for researching and medicine development for neurodegenerative diseases. The center will be lead by proffessor Allen Kaasik and is to receive one million euros.
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