Valio establishes academic post for medical research

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Medicine University Nutrition

Finnish dairy and ingredients player Valio has set up a professorship at the University of Helsinki to carry out medical research.

Valio and the University have worked together for many years but in nutrition research that tended to focus on the company's probiotic suite of ingredients. This work was conducted at the University's Agriculture Department.

"The significance of the role of nutrition in human health and disease prevention is currently the subject of many studies all around the world, and the effects of for instance food and intestinal microbiota on health are now better understood,"​ the company stated.

"The new professorship will advance research on the physiological and health-promoting effects of nutrition."

Valio said the recruitment process for the Valio-sponsored post in nutritional physiology at the University's Faculty of Medicine was open to all candidates, although it went to Riitta Korpela, PhD, who is vice president of research at Valio.

The part-time post is established for five years and according to Valio, seeks to strengthen the "collaboration between the worlds of medicine and nutrition".

"This is a new area of collaboration between industry and academia, aiming to strengthen and enhance research co-operation and hopefully serve as a model for other business sectors, too,"​ said professor Korpela, who will maintain her position at Valio.

Valio senior vice president of corporate communications Pia Kontunen told the post would seek to develop new research and deliver benefits such as networking potential among the medical professionals in the faculty.

Valio, which was founded in 1905 and is Finland's largest dairy, invested an unnamed sum into the project.

Kontunen noted such link-ups between industry and academia were common in the Scandinavian electronics industry, and were becoming more common in the food industry.Probiotic health benefits and blood pressure were two areas that would come under the microscope.

Valio​ has been working in the probiotics area for many years and its LGG strain hit the market in 1990.

It has marketed a range of probiotic products under its Gefilus brand in Finland, Sweden, Russia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Professor Korpela chairs the Finnish Society for Nutrition Research and holds many international positions of trust.

Valio has also developed a range of lactose-free milk solutions and its engineers in May won an award from the Finnish Association of Graduate Engineers for their work in the area.

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