The new Celiac Disease Research Center provides a boost to research

Celiac disease is a disease caused by the proteins in wheat, barley and rye which cause small bowel mucosal injury.

Celiac disease is a disease caused by the proteins in wheat, barley and rye which cause small bowel mucosal injury.

The third generation of celiac disease scholars at the University of Tampere have just established their own research centre. Founded in May, the new centre provides a further boost to the position and visibility of research in the field, which has already received international recognition.

The study of celiac disease conducted in Tampere is unique worldwide because it is not restricted to a particular age group; instead, it covers patients of all ages.

“The whole multidisciplinary research group will move to the new centre,” says Katri Kaukinen, professor of internal medicine, celiac disease scholar and head of the research centre.

Five main research strands are represented at the new centre: clinical research on celiac disease in adults, research on the manifestations of celiac disease in the skin, celiac disease in children, and basic research on immunobiology and genetics focusing on the background mechanisms of the disease.

“We are all investigating the same phenomena and can learn from each other,” Kaukinen explains.

The researchers are experts on, among other things, internal medicine, dermatology, paediatrics, neurology, haematology, primary health care, microbiology, biochemistry, immunobiology and genetics.

“Once we are able to gain a greater understanding of the mechanisms causing the disease, our aim is to develop new treatment options.”

In addition to the leaders of the five research strands, seven postdoctoral fellows, nineteen doctoral students and several medical students working on their advanced level and Master’s theses are employed at the centre, along with the research coordinators and laboratory personnel.

Research on celiac disease was introduced at the University of Tampere in the late 1970s by Professor Jarmo Visakorpi, who went on to become the University’s Rector. Professor Markku Mäki, one of the world’s leading scientists in the field, led the celiac disease research group from 1982. Despite retiring in 2015, Mäki is still continuing his research and acts as an advisor at the new centre. The other senior advisors are Professor Emeritus Timo Reunala and Professor Honoris Causa Pekka Collin.

The celiac disease scholars at the University of Tampere have developed, among others, a test for detecting disease-specific autoantibodies and a rapid test for celiac disease.

For more information, please contact:
Professor Katri Kaukinen, tel. +358 (0)50 318 6343, katri.kaukinen@uta.fi