University of Jyväskylä

Academy of Finland Award to Matti Jalasvuori

 Matti JalasvuoriThe Academy of Finland presents awards each year to two outstanding and distinguished researchers. The 2017 Award for Scientific Courage was presented to Academy Research Fellow Matti Jalasvuori from the University of Jyväskylä and the Award for Social Impact to Postdoctoral Researcher Ville Kivimäki from the University of Tampere.

Jalasvuori has done groundbreaking research into the development of virotherapy to treat antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. Kivimäki’s research deals with the social and cultural history of the second world war and post-war emotional history in the Finnish context.

The Academy of Finland Award for Scientific Courage is granted to a researcher who has shown exceptional scientific audacity, creativity or innovation in research. The Award can be granted for a novel or original research idea, for forward-looking work that cuts across scientific boundaries, or for a willingness to take risks in research.

The award ceremony was held on Thursday 15 February at the Academy of Finland in Helsinki.

Award for Scientific Courage given to researcher of viruses and antibiotic resistance

The Academy of Finland Award for Scientific Courage is presented to Academy Research Fellow Matti Jalasvuori (b. 1982). Jalasvuori is a virologist whose research focuses on the use of viruses in the treatment of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. His work has spanned several different research topics over the years. For example, he has studied the connection between viruses and the origin of life, the evolution of viruses and sexual reproduction, and virotherapy as a cancer treatment.

“It was near the end of my studies that I realised that the transfer of genetic information from one organism to another is an essential element of life, one in which viruses play an important role. Our understanding of this process is however still very limited,” Jalasvuori says.

“This realisation has since acted as the connecting factor between my various research projects, which have often emerged from me pondering over scientific questions night after night. This type of horizontal gene transfer also has many practical applications, and it’s the main culprit behind the rapid spread of antibiotic resistance.”

Antibiotic resistance is one of the most significant and urgent risks facing medicine today. Jalasvuori studies how antibiotic resistance spreads via bacteria and develops novel virus- and plasmid-based techniques to stop the resistance from spreading. In his research, he combines expertise in virology in a bold, multidisciplinary way that affords an opportunity to find novel solutions to the practical challenges of antibiotic resistance.

Matti Jalasvuori received his master’s degree in 2007 and obtained a doctoral degree in molecular biology in 2010 at the University of Jyväskylä. During 2011–2014 he was an Academy-funded Postdoctoral Researcher at Jyväskylä. He did a postdoctoral stint in 2012 at Australian National University in Canberra.

He currently has funding for an Academy Research Fellow post for the period 2016–2021. In 2014, he was appointed as an adjunct professor (docent) of virus genetics at Jyväskylä. Jalasvuori and his team were part of the Academy of Finland’s Centre of Excellence in Biological Interactions Research (2012–2017). He also has funding from the UK Medical Research Council, among others.

He regularly collaborates with international research groups and actively publishes his findings in leading scientific journals. He has also published a popular book on viruses, life and the universe (Virus – elämän synnyttäjä, kuoleman kylväjä, ajatusten tartuttaja, available only in Finnish).

More information:

  • Academy Research Fellow Matti Jalasvuori, tel. +358 50 413 5092, matti.jalasvuori(at)
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