Finnish Diabetes Association PhD thesis award to Essi Laajala

    Dr. Essi Laajala was awarded second prize for her PhD thesis in the field of diabetes study by the Finnish Diabetes Association. The award was given at this year’s Diabetes Day organized on November 16th in Grand Marina Congress Center, in Helsinki. Finnish Diabetes Association annually awards young researchers who have done their PhD in the field of diabetes research.

    Dr. Essi Laajala did her PhD work in Prof. Riitta Lahesmaa’s group in Turku Bioscience Centre and was co-supervised by Prof. Harri Lähdesmäki from Aalto University. In her PhD thesis Dr. Laajala established that differences in gene expression in children developing type 1 diabetes versus healthy children can be observed already before the onset of type 1 diabetes. The differentially expressed genes were associated with innate immunity. Laajala’s results also suggest that the environment influences the immune system development already in-utero. These novel findings may offer possibilities to develop therapies to delay and treat the onset of type 1 diabetes at early stage. The doctoral study belongs to Academy of Finland InFLAMES flagship program.

    “I was thankful to be invited to present my thesis at the Diabetes Day. It was definitely a highlight for me this year. I have always enjoyed working for these projects as a bioinformatician, but it’s even more important to know that people are actually reading our papers and eager to hear about them”, Laajala comments.