Since 2013, the focus of Wihuri Research Institute (WRI) has been on the application of functional genomics, vascular biology and growth factor technology to translational studies of human diseases, in diseases where the blood or lymphatic vasculature plays a central role. At the same time, basic research in WRI focuses on the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate the normal development, physiology and pathology of blood vessels.
Recently, WRI has strengthened its position especially in the study of lymphatic vessels, which is a rapidly growing field of physiology and pathology research. The advanced technology platform and models developed by WRI can easily be used to study human diseases in mouse models of those diseases. Research in WRI concerns the involvement of blood and lymphatic vessels in, for example, cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, atherosclerosis, obesity plus the related type 2 diabetes, vascular leakage of plasma in critical disease states such as the shock syndrome, the role of exercise in skeletal muscle metabolism and the trafficking of immune cells in the lymphatic vessels. Many of these studies use vascular growth factor technology and advanced imaging and single-cell analysis methods as a common technology platform.
Over the past years, WRI has gathered a significant number of expert partners and with them developed mouse models, gene transfer techniques, molecular analysis methods, as well as experience in bioinformatic analysis of gene expression and advanced imaging analysis. Together with our partners, we have increasingly connected the results from mouse disease models to findings from clinical material. The genetic and tissue materials, immunohistochemical image materials and bioinformatically processed digital results that WRI can obtain through its collaboration with the University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Hospital form a strong basis for continuous work at the forefront of cardiovascular research.
The Institute has made strong contributions in the fields of cardiovascular and lymphatic vascular biology, and it contributes by developing unique and important technology platforms based on vascular growth factors. Starting from the strong tradition and ongoing work on atherosclerosis research in the Wihuri Research Institute, it has become a collaborative network, where organ-specific vasculatures are studied in normal steady state and in pathological conditions that relate to many common human diseases.
In order to truly understand why and how the pathogenesis evolves in these diseases, our scientists address basic cellular and molecular mechanisms. The Institute groups enjoy the advanced development of technologies that provide new ways of addressing scientific questions. The Institute’s groups increasingly apply novel technologies, such as genome editing, single cell RNA sequencing and stem cell/organoid cultures, which are expected to significantly advance the Institute’s research goals during the future years.
The Institute meets the challenges of the accelerating pace of technology development by increased re-education and training, collaboration and networking, including free flow of ideas concerning the most efficient, rapid and least costly modes of operation, for example by sharing of the full capacity of instruments and core facilities of the University of Helsinki with the dedicated long-term personnel.