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New FiDiPro projects focus on health care diagnostics and wood processing products

Tekes has chosen two new international top experts for the Finland Distinguished Professor (FiDiPro) programme. The new FiDiPro research projects will focus on health care diagnostics and new kinds of wood processing products for the forest industry.

Professor Kalle Levon from New York University will be joining the Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry at Åbo Akademi University in Turku, and Professor Orlando J. Rojas from North Carolina State University will be joining the Department of Forest Products Technology at the Helsinki University of Technology. FiDiPro is a programme jointly funded by Tekes and the Academy of Finland for the purpose of recruiting distinguished researchers from abroad for Finnish universities and research institutions.

Promising number of applications from young talent for FiDiPro Fellow

In the Tekes application round of February 2009, Finnish research teams had the opportunity to propose the inclusion of talented international researchers at the beginning of their careers for the FiDiPro programme.

"We are pleased with the new project proposals. The purpose of FiDiPro Fellow funding is to expand the scope of the programme, and this will improve our potential for inviting the leading scientists of the future to Finland," says Mika Aalto, Technology Director at Tekes.

Being a new funding opportunity, FiDiPro Fellow attracted interest at Finnish universities. In the spring application round, Tekes received a total of 30 applications, of which 19 were young potential high flyers.

FiDiPro projects funded by Tekes in the autumn 2008 application round

Professor Kalle Levon, New York University, USA
Kalle Levon is Professor of Chemistry at New York University in the USA, specializing in electrochemical methods in diagnostics.

FiDiPro project: Health care diagnostics using chemical sensors
The purpose of the project is to develop a novel, easy-to-use and economical device for genetic diagnostics. The method is an immunoassay to detect single disease in point-of-care formats. The device is a microfluidic chip, and the method is based on potentiometric monitoring of DNA hybridization. Potentiometry is a technique that offers a unique economical and easy-to-use approach with simple instrumentation. One of the practical applications is directed towards the validation of PCR amplification step in the detection of genetic alterations.

Finnish host: Åbo Akademi University, Process Chemistry Centre, Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry, Professor Ari Ivaska

* * *

Professor Orlando J. Rojas, North Carolina State University, USA
Orlando J. Rojas, from North Carolina State University in the USA, is specialized in the study of lignocellulosic materials.

FiDiPro project: Value-added materials and functional structures from lignocellulosics
The general goal of this project is to use abundant renewable forest resources and by-products (cellulose and lignin) as precursors for the production of high performance materials and structures (and their functionalized versions) and also as substrates for a biologically inspired synthesis of catalysts for clean energy. The future economic viability of the forest cluster companies could be greatly enhanced by extending plant-based materials for new, high-value, high-volume products that can be effectively recycled.

Finnish host: Helsinki University of Technology, Department of Forest Products Technology, Professor Janne Laine

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