Activities of the Finnish Cancer Institute in 2022
Supporting scientific research
In 2022, the Finnish Cancer Institute (FCI) employed 11 researchers: three research professors, three senior cancer researchers, and five cancer researchers. Researchers worked actively and progressed according to the submitted research plans. In 2022, the researchers published a total of 38 scientific, peer-reviewed articles and gained visibility at international conferences and symposia.
In October, a call for three K. Albin Johansson Cancer Research Fellow positions was launched. A total of 22 applications were received and the Scientific Advisory Board evaluated the applicants according to the criteria published in the call. The positions were given to Outi Kilpivaara, Mika Kontro ja Anna Vähärautio who began their work on April 1, 2023.
The researcher positions were funded with the donations from the Cancer Foundation Finland and K. Albin Johansson Foundation.
Finnish Cancer Institute Symposium
The Finnish Cancer Institute Symposium 2022 Mission Possible: Delivering Precision Cancer Medicine was organized in September in Helsinki in collaboration with iCAN flagship study, led by the University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Hospital. The two-day symposium was attended on site by 300 participants and 270 persons followed the symposium stream. The Eero Saksela Prize, a prize to highlight scientific merits together with international mobility, was awarded exceptionally to two talented researchers, Anniina Färkkilä and Toni Seppälä.
Other promotion of cancer research
Model Country for Individual Cancer Treatment initiative. The initiative was carried out in active cooperation with the Association of Finnish Cancer Patients and ten pharmaceutical companies ((AbbVie, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Janssen, MSD, Pfizer, Roche ja Takeda). The main goal of the project is to strengthen and promote Finland's position as a pioneer in individualized cancer treatment and as an attractive research environment.
In 2022, the top priority was to increase awareness of the lack of national cancer plan in Finland and to promote recording of its preparation in the next Government Programme in 2023. The FCI CEO and the executive director of the Association of Finnish Cancer Patients were in extensive contact with key members of parliament and the parties' health and social care experts and discussed with them the importance of drawing up a national cancer plan.
In May, the project together with the parliament's Cancer Network and the Sylva Foundation organized Cancer affects everyone: Towards psychosocial support and national cancer strategy event for members of parliament, which highlighted the need for psychosocial support for cancer patients and the importance of the national cancer strategy in preparing for the future cancer burden. In July, the event Bubbling under - equality in Finnish cancer treatment was organized in Pori at the same time with SuomiAreena, where e.g., the importance of early introduction of modern cancer treatments and the increase of clinical research conducted in Finland were discussed.
The project's Twitter and Facebook accounts were actively used. As communication support measures, the project's website was renewed, a one-pager on the national cancer plan was prepared, a dedicated image bank was built, and roll-ups were designed and printed. A blog was opened on the renewed website and six patient story videos were produced. At the end of 2022, one new company (Beigene) joined the project.
Medical research funding report. Together with 14 other foundations that support medical research, the FCI carried out a survey that mapped the funding, overall outlook and development of Finnish medical research. The report focused on university-level scientific research from a medical perspective in relevant sectors in the years 2010–2020. The purpose was to find out how medical research is financed in Finland and what changes have taken place in research funding. The most important findings were that state research funding (VTR) had further shrunk by more than a third during the period (from 40 million to 25 million), foundations supported medical research with almost 100 million euros in 2020, and the funding of the Academy of Finland and Tekes/Business Finland increased by 30–40%. The survey did not include the share of companies as financiers of medical research. The survey information was compiled by Aula Research Oy, which specializes in influencer studies.
Finance and fundraising
The FCI receives support from the Cancer Foundation Finland (330 000 euros in 2022) and from the K. Albin Johansson Foundation (350 946 euros in 2022). In addition to the four researcher positions, the Cancer Foundation Finland funds other activities of the Institute. The K. Albin Johansson Foundation's donation covers the salary costs of the K. Albin Johansson researchers.
The funds of the FCI have been cost-effectively directed to cancer research in the form of salaries for researchers (684 475,20 euros in 2022). The Institute has only a part-time (50%) Managing Director and no office, laboratories, or buildings. The Board of Trustees and the Scientific Advisory Board are working without reward and the administrative costs are reasonable overall.
The companies involved in the Model Country initiative supported the project's activities with a total of 140 000 euros. The exhibitors supported the Symposium with 40 000 euros. The FCI had no fundraising nor was involved in business activities.
Administration, accounting, and auditing
The governing bodies the FCI are the Board of Trustees and the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). In 2022, the Board of Trustees consisted of eight members (Chair: Tomi Mäkelä) and the SAB of 13 members (Chair: Vesa Kataja). The Board of Trustees met seven times and the SAB four times. Tiina Vesterinen worked as the CEO. Accounting services were provided by Premium Accounting Oy. The FCI was audited by DHS Oy Audit Partners.
The website established for the FCI in spring 2021 was actively updated. The administrative tools updated in 2021 (electronic signature, invoicing program and electronic application system for research positions) were also in active use. The CEO drew up and the Board approved a related party guideline and a statement on the processing of personal data and the rights of the data subject.
Activities for the current year 2023
The FCI is an independent operator whose expertise is medically, socially and nationally comprehensive. Maintaining research activities is still the most important activity of the Institute. The number of researcher positions in the future depends essentially on the financial support provided by the Cancer Foundation Finland and the K. Albin Johansson Foundation. New partners to increase activities are being mapped and ways to stabilize the finances are explored.
In 2023, a call for two Research Professors and three Post-doctoral Cancer Researchers will be opened. The professor call opens in the spring and the post-doc call in the fall.
The FCI closely monitors the start-up and development of the National Cancer Center (FICAN) and especially its coordination center. The FCI could have opportunities to support FICAN's research activities, for example by maintaining jointly funded researcher positions. In addition, the FCI's long experience with the public-private-patients cooperation model in the Model Country of Individual Cancer Care project could serve as a model for FICAN as well.
The FCI has so far organized 15 international level symposia, which have found their place in the research community. The symposium will not be organized this year, but the arrangements for the 2024 symposium have started.
The main content of the Model Country project has focused on justifying the need for a national cancer plan in Finland. If the next Government Programme includes the preparation of a national cancer plan, the FCI aims to participate as an active representative of the third sector in both the preparation of the strategy and its implementation.
The official annual report with financial statements (in Finnish) can be received on request by e-mail.