University of Tartu planning to make Estonia global hub for genetic data

  • 2023-12-15
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - The University of Tartu plans to establish a subsidiary by the name Estonian Multiomics Company (EMC), with the goal of leveraging Estonia's unique digital healthcare advantages and experience in order to create a new international center for healthcare innovation.

The company will start its operations in Estonia but aims to grow globally with the help of international partners.

Tonu Esko, vice rector for development at the University of Tartu, highlighted Estonia's unique advantages that facilitate healthcare innovation, such as world-class personalized medicine research, a digital state, and a strong technology sector. 

"Creating new, life-saving, and life-quality enhancing medical solutions and making them accessible to people is a resource-intensive endeavor, and currently, the Estonian state lacks the capability to support it. The University of Tartu has the opportunity and desire to utilize these digital advantages of Estonia and, together with international partners, empower the development of our medicine," Esko said.

The new health data to be generated by EMC will also benefit Estonia's healthcare system and researchers, he added,

Esko believes that the participation of people is crucial in achieving medical breakthroughs, as many current treatments and tools would not have been discovered without it.

"EMC will bring together individuals who want to contribute to healthcare innovation, and reliable, thoroughly vetted companies with international ambition, who wish to create innovative healthcare services and products by analyzing people's health data," he noted.

The new subsidiary will operate in close cooperation with the University of Tartu.

"The university is very strong globally in the fields of medicine, genomics, and computer science. We have a successful biobank, a gene repository that has helped develop health science and personalized medicine in Estonia and globally. We also now have the opportunity to take the next step to ensure this top-level knowledge translates into medicines, diagnostics and treatment methods, and perhaps even healthcare apps that help people. The goal is international -- while we start with Estonia, we wish to soon invite people from other countries on this journey," Esko said.

The Estonian Genome Project is a separate and independent data repository from EMC. Owned by the state, the use of its data is strictly regulated by the Human Genes Research Act.

"Gene donors who wish to join EMC must express their desire to do so," Esko clarified.