Virology

Virology as a study field connects the different research units and departments working in the fields of biology, biotechnology, microbiology, agriculture and forestry, veterinary sciences and pharmacy at University of Helsinki. All of them are located at the Viikki campus. Viruses are important parasites in all cellular organisms. They cause economically significant diseases in domestic animals and cultivated plants. Therefore, understanding of the origin and molecular evolution of viruses is crucial for the control of viruses. However, the current knowledge on viruses is biased since it is almost entirely derived from man-made production systems, and little is known about the significance of viruses to the ecology and evolution of organisms in natural systems. Studies on viruses continue to reveal novel cellular functions, due to the dependence of viruses on them, or their ability to interfere with the functions of the cell. Examples include intra- and intercellular transport of viruses and RNA silencing, respectively. Structural studies on viruses reveal novel interactions between biomolecules. Many biotechnological tools are based on viruses, of which vector viruses used for production of pharmaceuticals in plants, or delivery to and silencing of genes in animal cells can be mentioned as examples.

The Viikki Biocenter Research Organisation currently includes nine research groups and ca. 60 scientists and PhD students studying viruses that infect animals, plants or bacteria. Progress in the specific research projects can be followed up by visiting homepages of the research groups. One of the active, stimulating fora for exchange of ideas and information in virology is the monthly Virus Club, in which senior scientists and PhD students present results of their recent studies. For further information, contact: kristiina.makinen-at-helsinki.fi

Postgraduate education in virology is active. During the past 10 years, nearly 80 % of the PhD theses in virology at University of Helsinki have been prepared in the research groups in Viikki. Many of the current PhD students in virology belong to the Viikki Graduate School of Biosciences, obtaining a salary or matching funds from the graduate school. The graduate school organises teaching and postgraduate courses in virology jointly with foreign universities (for further information, contact: jari.valkonen-at-helsinki.fi).

Undergraduate education in virology is given at many departments and by many teachers and scientists at the campus. Courses belong to different main subjects of the four faculties. An introductory course in virology (course 28006, Faculty of Biosciences) is offered for students across the faculties (for further information, contact: dennis.bamford-at-helsinki.fi). Furthermore, the virology programme has been active in preparing a proposal, according to which the coordination and programme for a campus-wide undergraduate teaching programme in virology could be established.

Virology education in Viikki

Coordinator
Jari Valkonen
jari.valkonen-at-helsinki.fi

Vice-coordinator
Tero Ahola
tero.ahola-at-helsinki.fi

Groupleaders  
Ahola, Tero Oksanen, Hanna
Airavaara. Mikko Poranen, Minna
Bamford, Dennis Roine, Elina
Butcher, Sarah Valkonen, Jari
Mäkinen, Kristiina