Terveyden ja Hyvinvoinnin Laitos - EPIET

acknowledged by EPIET available for next EPIET cohort
National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL)
Mannerheimintie 166
FI-00300 Helsinki

Contact person

Outi Lyytikäinen

Tel. +358 29 52 4 8783
Fax. +358 29 52 4 8468

Description of the institute

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) is a research and development institute under the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. The functions of the THL include to promote the welfare and health of the population, to prevent diseases and social problems, and to develop social and health services.

The infectious disease activities are organised into the Department of Health Security.

The Department of Health Security is responsible for surveillance of infectious diseases, characterizing risk factors for infections, proposals of evidence-based control measures, guidelines to health care professionals and the general public. The national infectious disease registry (NIDR) was established in 1995. The municipalities of the 20 health districts have the legal responsibility to carry out outbreak investigations while THL provides expertise to local authorities in epidemiologic investigations, implementing infectious disease control measures and reference microbiology laboratory services using advanced molecular typing methods. THL is the national contact point for WHO International Health Regulations (IHR 2005), WHO national reference laboratory for influenza, measles and polio, and participates in several EU funded research projects. THL collaborates actively with the European Centre of Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

The Department of Health Security is in charge of supervision, evaluation, guidance and strategic development of the national vaccination programme. The department also purchases and delivers vaccines used in the national programme. The research activities range from statutory vaccine specific coverage, impact, immune protection and safety evaluation to large scale phase III-IV studies on impact of new vaccines and mathematical and health economic modelling to predict the outcome of different programmatic choices. The  Finnish National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG)  operates under THL.

THL has extensive links with:

  • Public health research in collaboration with central and university hospitals in 20 health care districts and health care centres.
  • Finnish Food Safety Authority
  • Zoonosis centre
  • Finnish Medical Agency
  • University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, and Faculty of Medicine, departments of infectious diseases, paediatrics, bacteriology, virology, and public health
  • Universities of Kuopio, Tampere and Oulu, schools of public health
  • University of Helsinki, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Departments of Food Hygiene and Environmental Health, and Veterinary Biosciences
  • Joint staff and collaboration with international Master's and Doctoral-level programs in epidemiology and vaccinology at the Health Sciences Unit, University of Tampere
  • Vocational schools in charge of training nurses and midwives

Training opportunities

The EPIET fellow is given considerable latitude and support in developing projects designed to his/her areas of interest, including:

  • Surveillance and research projects of all main infectious diseases of public health importance based on data in the National infectious disease registry (NIDR) established in 1995
  • Food- and waterborne outbreak investigations, including outbreak surveillance with structured surveillance scheme (RYMY)
  • Surveillance of healthcare-associated infections (bloodstream infections, surgical site infections, Clostridium difficile infections)
  • Surveillance of antimicrobial resistance (MRSA, VRE, PRP, MDR-TB, ESBL, CPE)
  • Development of syndromic surveillance
  • Molecular epidemiology of viruses and bacteria (HIV, respiratory viruses and bacteria, enteric bacteria, M. tuberculosis)
  • Possibility to work in THL laboratories under expert supervision
  • Signal verification of vaccine related adverse events and development of the national register of vaccinations, with strategic goal of enhancing secondary data use of existing care registers
  • Serological antibody surveys of vaccine preventable microbes/toxins to evaluate and improve the national immunisation program
  • Mathematical modelling and cost effectiveness analyses of spread and control of infectious diseases (mainly S. pneumoniae, influenza, RSV, measles, varicella and zoster, hepatitis B, human papillomavirus; EHEC, vector borne diseases)
  • Teaching experience in the national and international communicable disease workshops and vaccinology and local meetings
  • Participating in evaluating the effectiveness and population effects of the National pneumococcal conjugate vaccine program, and influenza vaccination program including brand specific effectiveness (IMI DRIVE)
  • Participating in vaccine hesitancy related evaluation and research (Joint Action Vaccines)
    International assignments are encouraged.
    Close collaboration with University of Tampere provides opportunities for teaching experience as lecturer and facilitator in Master's and Doctoral level epidemiology and vaccinology courses as well as possibility of attending advanced-level, academic epidemiology courses.

Training supervision

The fellow is assigned to the Department of Health Security. The following resource persons are committed to EPIET:

Dr. Outi Lyytikäinen, M.D., EPIET graduate (1997) with expertise in infectious diseases, outbreak investigation, epidemiology of healthcare-associated infections, antimicrobial resistance and invasive bacterial infections.

Prof. Pekka Nuorti, M.D., CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS 1994) and Preventive Medicine Residency (1997) graduate with expertise in vaccine-preventable diseases, evaluating prevention program impact, outbreak investigations, registry-based studies and developing evidence-based public health policy . Dr Nuorti is also Professor of epidemiology at the Health Sciences Unit, University of Tampere.

Dr. Ruska Rimhanen-Finne, D.V.M. EPIET graduate (2009) with expertise in zoonotic diseases, outbreak investigations, epidemiology of food-and waterborne infections.

Dr. Emmi Sarvikivi, M.D., EPIET graduate (2010) with expertise in pediatric infectious diseases, outbreak investigations and epidemiology of healthcare-associated infections.

Dr. Jussi Sane, PhD in medical virology, EPIET graduate (2014) with expertise in surveillance systems, outbreak investigations, preparedness planning and global health security. His research is focusing on zoonotic diseases (emerging and vector-borne infections) as well as certain vaccine-preventable diseases.

Dr. Hanna Nohynek, M.D., former EPIET Steering Committee chairman, Chief physician with expertise in vaccinology including adverse events, phase I-III clinical trials and phase IV evaluation in Finland and resource poor  countries, global health, public health policy development, international travel health and communications.

Prof. Kari Auranen, PhD in biostatistics with special expertise in Bayesian and transmission modelling of infectious diseases. Kari Auranen is also Professor of biostatistics at the University of Turku.

Dr. Tuija Leino, M.D., Adjunct professor, Chief physician with expertise in vaccinology, modelling and epidemiology of vaccine preventable diseases.

Timothée Dub, MSc, EPIET graduate (2019) with expertise in surveillance systems, outbreak investigations and epidemiologic research focusing on zoonotic diseases (emerging and vector-borne infections) as well as certain vaccine-preventable diseases.

Language requirements

English is widely spoken in THL as well as in the main urban centres. Official languages are Finnish and Swedish. Conversational skills in Finnish or Swedish are not required. In the field investigations the fellow is working together with a Finnish colleague.

Training history

Number of foreign EPIET fellows hosted in THL: 15 (1996, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)

Number of Finnish EPIET fellows hosted in THL: 2 (2007, 2008)

Number of foreign EUPHEM fellows hosted in THL: 4 (2012, 2014, 2016, 2018)

Number of EPIET and EUPHEM alumni working in THL: 6 (The department serves as a training site of infectious disease epidemiology for medical doctors and veterinarians)