Top-level international research 

In its strategy for 2015-2020, the university has identified five top-level international research areas.

Aerosols, Climate Change and Human Health

Atmospheric aerosols play a central role in the processes related to climate change and in air quality, which affects human health. Aerosols affect the Earth's radiation balance directly, by reflecting solar radiation, as well as indirectly, by affecting cloudiness and cloud properties. The amount and properties of atmospheric aerosols are primarily determined by their natural (forests, oceans, etc.) and anthropogenic (e.g. combustion processes) sources and changes in those sources. One globally important challenge is the effect of aerosol particles on air quality, and hence on human health and well-being.
By investigating which of the aerosol properties and processes are key to their climate and health effects, it will be possible to further specify international agreements on emissions in the future, and to explore increasingly efficient regulatory models at various levels of government.
The key research topics of the research area are: the development of aerosol characterisation techniques, the effect of particle properties on their growth and capability to act as cloud condensation nuclei, the connections between particle chemical composition, toxicology and health effects, the development of climate models in cooperation with other groups involved in the Centre of Excellence in Atmospheric Science, and the interplay between climate change law, climate change and human health.

Professors in charge: Professor Kari Lehtinen

Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases

Cardiovascular diseases, metabolic diseases, type 2 diabetes and obesity are a major challenge to all health care systems globally, and the prevalence of these diseases clearly continues to grow as the population ages. The research area in cardiovascular and metabolic diseases focuses on the pathophysiology, genetics, molecular mechanisms, prevention and novel treatments of these diseases by using modern methods in molecular biology, genetics, nutrition, translational medicine and gene transfer. The research area comprises researchers from the fields of internal medicine, clinical nutrition, molecular medicine, vascular biology and cardiology. It brings together researchers from the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital, and it is closely linked to the activities of the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disease, the Genome Center of Eastern Finland, and the National Virus Vector Laboratory.
The research area boasts an extensive international network of partners in Europe and the United States, and its research projects are funded by several national and international research programmes, most notably the National Institutes of Health and the Framework Programmes of the EU.

Professors in charge: Academy Professor Seppo Ylä-Herttuala, Academy Professor Markku Laakso

Forests, Global Change and Bioeconomy

This research area focuses on the effects of forest management, forest use and climate change on the carbon dynamics, structure and ecosystem services of forests, such as the production of forest biomass, biodiversity, forest carbon capture and recreational use. The research area also studies the needs for adjustment in forest management in a changing operating environment (e.g. the diversification of forestry and bioeconomy, climate change), and the possibilities to mitigate climate change and biodiversity depletion through adjustments in forest management and forest use. The research approaches used are multidisciplinary, encompassing both experimental research (e.g. tree responses to changes in environmental factors, adaptation mechanisms of forest plants, carbon dynamics of forest ecosystems, forest management and biodiversity) and modelling (forest ecosystem and risk of tree death modelling, life cycle analysis, forest planning optimisation systems and systems supporting decision-making, biometry-based modelling, interpretation of laser scanning data, geographic information systems). The research is of an extremely high international level and is socially impactful. It responds to topical challenges, both those that are national and those that affect mankind globally, in which sustainable forest management and forest use play significant roles.

Professors in charge: Professor Heli Peltola, Professor Riitta Julkunen-Tiitto


The research area in neurosciences responds to the global challenge of how to maintain brain health in an aging population. The foundations of the research area rest on 30 years of internationally recognized expertise in neurosciences at the University of Eastern Finland. The core of the research area in neurosciences is built around top-level brain research, ranging from basic to clinical research (degenerative neurological disorders, epilepsy), doctoral training and a competitive infrastructure.
The research area constitutes a multidisciplinary competence cluster, which makes extensive use of the expertise at the university, Kuopio University Hospital and partner networks. Research in neurosciences is strongly networked both nationally and internationally. The objective of research in neurosciences is to produce internationally significant research findings which affect the prevention, diagnostics and treatment of the brain diseases that form the core of the research area, and which support cooperation between the university and businesses and the emergence of new companies. The research area in neurosciences offers a modern research environment in which the next generation of researchers and teachers can grow to be internationally competitive.

Professors in charge: Academy Professor Asla Pitkänen, Professor Mikko Hiltunen

Borders, Mobilities and Cultural Encounters

European integration and the complex and contradictory process of globalisation have dramatically changed the significance of political, cultural and linguistic borders, creating new forms of mobilities and encounters between people, ideas and things. Post-Cold War democratisation development, civil society networks, migrant communities and contemporary cultural milieux have created new, alternative conceptions of space, political viewpoints and social and cultural arenas. Socio-cultural heterogeneity, cross-border interaction and the mobilities they create present a challenge to both research into these issues and the policies of addressing them in practice. Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland are at the international forefront of research addressing borders, mobilities and cross-cultural interaction. Today, they form one of the most internationally recognised research communities studying European and Russian borders, the socio-economic and cultural development of border areas, cross-border mobility, and cultural and linguistic encounters. The multidisciplinary research approaches of this research area cover the following themes:
1) European borders and Russia, 2) mobilities and migration, and 3) cultural and linguistic encounters.

Professors in charge: Professor James Scott, Professor Jopi Nyman