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Dr. Tuuli Lappalainen Receives Prestigious Leena Peltonen Prize for Excellence in Human Genetics

June 16, 2018

First Finnish genomic researcher to receive award honoring one of Finland’s most renowned scientists

Tuuli Lappalainen, PhD, Core Faculty Member, New York Genome Center (NYGC) and Assistant Professor, Department of Systems Biology, Columbia University, is the recipient of the 2018 Leena Peltonen Prize for Excellence in Human Genetics. The award was presented to Dr. Lappalainen on June 16, 2018 in Milan, Italy, at the 52nd Annual European Society of Human Genetics meeting, the largest human genetics conference in Europe. The award is funded by the Leena Peltonen Memorial Fund in the Paulo Foundation.

Dr. Lappalainen’s research focus is on functional genetic variation in human populations. She and her research group at NYGC study regulatory variation affecting the transcriptome, as well as cellular mechanisms underlying genetic associations to diseases. The work of her research group links computational and population genomics to experimental molecular biology. Widely published in her field, Dr. Lappalainen has made important contributions to several international research consortia in human genomics, including the Genotype Tissue Expression (GTEx) Project, the 1000 Genomes Project, and the Geuvadis Consortium.

The prize Dr. Lappalainen received honors the memory of Dr. Leena Peltonen, a world-renowned human geneticist from Finland who passed away in 2009. A visionary in medical genetics, Dr. Peltonen contributed to the identification of disease genes for human diseases in the Finnish and other populations. Her outstanding achievements inspired many young researchers in the field of medical genetics, including Dr. Lappalainen, who grew up in Finland, earning her PhD in Genetics at the University of Helsinki in 2009, followed by postdoctoral research at the University of Geneva and Stanford University.

“Tuuli’s commitment to international collaboration as well as her philosophy of empowering and inspiring the next generation of genomic researchers mirrors Leena Peltonen’s values and vision for advancing the field,” said a member of the award’s nominating committee, Samuli Ripatti, PhD, Professor of Biometry Public Health, University of Helsinki, Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM), Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

“As a female Finnish scientist who was inspired by Leena Peltonen’s important contributions to human genetic research, it’s truly a great honor and especially meaningful to me to receive this award,” noted Dr. Lappalainen.

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