Building Bridges 2023 - Connecting researchers to strengthen crisis preparedness

On 16 March 2023, the Finnish node of the Nordic EMBL Partnership for Molecular Medicine, FIMM, together with the Doctoral Program in Clinical Research at University of Helsinki, hosted the 11th Building Bridges symposium in Helsinki.


The Building Bridges series provides a platform for connecting basic, translational and clinical research by showcasing examples of ongoing successful collaborations. This year, it focused on how we can be more prepared for future crisis using lessons learned so far from the COVID-19 pandemic; "Building Bridges 2023 Symposium: Crisis Preparedness Using the COVID-19 Pandemic as an Example". The event invited attendees to a strong line up of speakers with hands-on experience in understanding the pathophysiology and improvement of patient care, powered by the presented cross-border initiatives launched during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first talk was given by Atle Fretheim, research director of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, followed by Rolf Apweiler, director of EMBL-EBI. Five researchers represented the strength of FIMM; Tuomo Hartonen, postdoctoral researcher, Vilja Pietiäinen, researcher, Vilma Lammi postdoctoral researcher, and Hanna Olilla and Andrea Ganna, group leaders. From MIMS, clinical research fellow Anne-Marie Fors Connolly talked about the Cardiovascular complications following COVID-19.

Thanks to the NordForsk funding the Nordic EMBL Partnership was awarded to increase knowledge transfer and interaction across the Nordic EMBL Partnership nodes, Hanna Jerndal, PhD student in the Fors Connolly group, was able to travel to Helsinki, attend the symposium in person and meet their FIMM collaborators, members of the Olilla group, to discuss details of their joint project.

“COVID-19 really showed us how crucial it is to build bridges within research, but also between research, academia, health care and society. This important symposium highlighted multidisciplinary aspects of the latest COVID-19 research. It also gave us the opportunity to discuss what next steps we as a research community need to take to fill the current knowledge gaps. It is extraordinary to see how the infrastructure and collaborations within our research field and within the Nordic EMBL Partnership have developed these past years. I’m happy that I got a chance to attend this interesting and well-organised symposium, and to meet with our collaboration partners in the Hanna Ollila Group”, says Hanna Jerndal, PhD student in the Fors Connolly group, Dept. of Clinical Microbiology, Umeå University.