Activities of the Finnish Cancer Institute in 2020

Supporting scientific research

In 2020, the Board of Trustees decided on the proposal of the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) to select nine new cancer researchers. Six of them started in 2020 and three in January 2021. The Finnish Cancer Institute funded researcher positions with grants from the Cancer Foundation Finland and the K. Albin Johansson Foundation.

Finnish Cancer Institute Symposium

Every 2 or 3 years, the Finnish Cancer Institute hosts an international symposium with both national and international speakers. The responsibility for leading the symposium and compiling the programme has traditionally belonged to the SAB. The 14th symposium was scheduled to take place on 20–21 August 2020 in Turku under the title Cancer – Breaking Bad, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic the event was postponed until autumn 2021.

Other promotion of cancer research

National Cancer Center Finland (FICAN). The researchers who started at the Finnish Cancer Institute in 2020 are FICAN cancer researchers. The aim is to make FICAN better known to the research community as well as to strengthen its visibility.

Model Country for Individual Cancer Treatment initiative. An influential event was held on 12 March 2020 in the Paavo Hall of the Helsinki Music Centre. The event discussed how different stakeholders could work together to improve the equality of Finnish cancer care and to ensure that effective care is available in Finland without delay, regardless of where a person lives. In particular, efforts were made to seek solutions and perspectives on how Finnish cancer care can be improved and developed through politics. Members of Parliament from all parliamentary groups attended, and the total number of participants was about 70. The initiative was carried out in cooperation with the Association of Cancer Patients in Finland and was supported by AstraZeneca, Bristol Myers Squibb, MSD, Pfizer, Roche and Takeda. The initiative has three main objectives: 1) that Finnish cancer treatment is equal, 2) that effective treatment is quickly available in Finland and 3) that Finland provides an environment that supports individual cancer treatment research.

Finance and fundraising

The funds of the Finnish Cancer Institute have been cost-effectively directed to cancer research in the form of salaries for researchers (approximately 192,000 euros in 2020). The Finnish Cancer Institute has only a part-time Secretary General and no office, laboratories or buildings. The Board of Trustees and the SAB are working without reward and the administrative costs are reasonable overall.

K. Albin Johansson Foundation. In 2020, the K. Albin Johansson Foundation funded three 3-year and one 2-year research positions. In addition, a researcher was selected for the 5-year K. Albin Johansson Research Professor position. She started work on 1 January 2021.

Cancer Foundation Finland. In 2020, two 2-year research positions were funded by grants from the Cancer Foundation Finland. In addition, researchers were selected for two Research Professor positions. They started work on 1 January 2021.

Model Country for Individual Cancer Treatment initiative. This project was financially supported by AstraZeneca, Bristol Myers Squibb, MSD, Pfizer, Roche and Takeda.

Board of Trustees and Scientific Advisory Board

In accordance with the rules of the Finnish Cancer Institute, the governing bodies are the Board of Trustees and the SAB. The Board of Trustees plans activities and fundraising, decides on the researcher positions and ensures social impact. The Board of Trustees consists of nine members. In 2020, they were Pirkko-Liisa Kellokumpu-Lehtinen (Chairman), Eero Heliövaara (Vice-Chairman), Leif Andersson, Stig Gustavson, Sakari Karjalainen, Heikki Kyöstilä, Aki Lindén, Reima Rytsölä and Christer Strömberg.

The SAB is composed of a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 15 members elected by the Board of Trustees. The members of the SAB must be Finnish cancer researchers and represent the various aspects of cancer research. The task of the SAB is to monitor the activities of the Finnish Cancer Institute from a scientific point of view and to make proposals to the Board of Trustees on the persons to be appointed as researchers. The SAB also approves reports submitted by researchers on the progress of their research and is responsible for organizing the Finnish Cancer Institute Symposium. In 2020, the SAB consisted of the following persons: Tomi Mäkelä (Chair), Sirpa Jalkanen (Vice-Chair), Lauri Aaltonen, Johanna Arola, Anssi Auvinen, Jyrki Heino, Vesa Kataja, Nea Malila, Arto Mannermaa, Jukka-Pekka Mecklin, Heikki Minn, Lea Sistonen, Taina Turpeenniemi-Hujanen and Tapio Visakorpi.

In 2020, the Board of Trustees met five times (26 May, 31 August, 13 October, 8 December and 22 December) and the SAB three times (12 March, 19 August and 27 October).


Administration, accounting and auditing

Tuula Helander acted as Secretary General, and accounting services were provided by Premium Accounting Oy. The Finnish Cancer Institute was audited by DHS Oy Audit Partners. The appointed auditors were Authorized Public Accountant Tapani Vuopala and Authorized Public Accountant Ville Vasama.

Activities for the current year 2021

Tuula Helander, who was the Institute’s part-time Secretary General from October 1998, took up another position in February 2021. Tiina Vesterinen was elected as the new Secretary General, and she started work in January 2021. The position of Secretary General was changed to a 50% position.

During the year, the Finnish Cancer Institute aims to determine which researcher positions would be the most effective. The aim is to open them for applications in 2022–2023, since offering researcher positions will continue to be at the core of the Finnish Cancer Institute’s activities. The Finnish Cancer Institute will also continue to promote the research activities of the National Cancer Center Finland (FICAN) as a national expert. Moreover, the Model Country for Individual Cancer Treatment initiative will be reactivated by opening up social media channels and organizing an influential event in Parliament and a public event at the Science Corner in Helsinki together with other actors in the field. The Cancer – Breaking Bad symposium, which was cancelled in 2020, will be held in cooperation with BioCity in Turku in August. In addition, the visibility of the Finnish Cancer Institute will be strengthened, for example through the launching of a website. In addition, a reform of the rules will be conducted.