New composition of the University of Tartu council approved

3 months ago

At their session on 16 February, the Government of the Republic of Estonia approved  the new composition of the council of the University of Tartu. The rector will convene the first council meeting on 13 March 2017.

Members of the council from outside the university:

  • rector of Uppsala University, Professor Eva Åkesson,
  • managing director of Estonian Business Angels Network EstBAN Heidi Kakko,
  • chairman of the board of Sangar AS Vahur Kraft,
  • managing partner of Raidla Ellex Law Firm Ants Nõmper,
  • general manager of Chemi-Pharm AS Ruth Oltjer.

From the University of Tartu, the following members belong to the council:

  • professor of neurosurgery, academician Toomas Asser,
  • professor of economic policy Jüri Sepp,
  • professor of Estonian as a foreign language Birute Klaas-Lang,
  • professor of archaeogenetics, academician Richard Villems,
  • professor of psychology of religion Tõnu Lehtsaar.

Toomas Asser, Jüri Sepp and Vahur Kraft also belonged to the previous membership of the council.

Read more about the members on the intranet.

Rector Volli Kalm said that the news about the government’s decision was relieving. “Although the university has operated smoothly on a day-to-day basis despite having a council, there are several processes that cannot continue for long without the decisions of the governing body,” the rector explained, referring to the long delay in the approval process. The rector was also pleased about the makeup of the council: “The university has got a respectable body consisting of significant and capable members to support its long-term development.”

The rector makes a proposal to the members of the new council to gather to their first session on Monday, 13 March 2017. At the first meeting the council will elect a chair, agree about its rules of procedure and discuss other general university governance issues. The council meeting will be followed by a joint session of the council and the senate, in which rector candidates will be heard and an opinion formed about the candidates.

The council is the highest decision-making body of the University of Tartu, which holds responsibility for the university's economic activities and long-term development. Among other activities, the council approves the university's statutes and adopts its strategic plan and budget.

According to the UT Statutes, the council comprises 11 members, five of whom are nominated by the senate, one by the Estonian Academy of Sciences (whose nominee must not be an employee of the University of Tartu) and five by the Minister of Education and Research, involving the public in the nomination process and ensuring that the majority of council members are not employees of the university.

Additional information:
Saima Tiirmaa-Oras, council secretary, 737 5602, saima.tiirmaa-oras [ät]

Viivika Eljand-Kärp Press Officer of the UT Phone: +372 737 5683
Mobile: +372 5354 0689 E-mail: viivika.eljand-karp [ät]


Category: UniversityPress release
Viivika Eljand-Kärp (viivikae)

Garage48 Hardware & Arts 2017 brings ideas to daylight

3 months 1 week ago

The “Garage48 Hardware & Arts” hackathon, happening already for the 4th time on 17-19th of February in Tartu, brings together skilled individuals all across the Baltics to build ideas into working prototypes.

For 48 hours the Tartu University Institute of Physics building will be taken over by 180 participants: mechanics and electronics engineers, product and graphic designers, software developers and programmers, representatives of hard sciences and marketeers - both working professionals and students. Garage48 Hardware & Arts 2017 is brought to life by the joint project of Tartu University, Estonian Academy of Arts and Garage48 Foundation.

“On one hand the development of technology has created a big demand for well-designed and intuitive user interfaces and user experiences. On the other, there is a growing wish among designers and architects to integrate electronics and mechatronics into their creation. Garage48 Hardware & Arts has gained a remarkable role as the developer of a co-operating culture among design and technology fields”, highlights Kristjan Mändmaa, the Dean of The Estonian Academy of Arts Design Faculty.  


Supporting the synergy is also highly important in the opinion of one of the event organizers, Tartu University professorAlvo Aabloo: “This event creates prerequisites for cooperation between the people in natural sciences, design and creative industries, various engineering, also the military field and business people. From the education field we have included Tartu University, Estonian Academy of Arts and Estonian National Defence College.”


The participants of the Garage48 Hardware & Arts 2017 will get to use different electronics and design materials and tools. Tartu University Digilab and SPARK Makerlab will open their working rooms for the building process. Mass Portal offers 3D printers, Eccom lazer cutters and the Rohde & Schwarz electronic devices together with their skills and knowledge in using them.

Garage48 co-founder Priit Salumaa says that the event offers a challenge also to software developers. “The most influential technology companies of today have based their products upon hardware. Tesla, Apple and Estonia’s own Starship Technologies have combined hardware, software and design in very skilful ways,” comments Salumaa on the activities of the hottest technology companies of this day.


Garage48 Hardware & Arts 2017 final event that will showcase all the physical prototypes that have been built during the 48 hours of the hackathon can be watched live through Postimees and homepage on Sunday, February 19th, starting at 18.00.


Event sponors: Estonian National Defence College, University of Tartu, Estonian Academy of Arts, the Estronics cluster co-funded by the European Union's Regional Development Fund measures and member of the EAS cluster program, Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Elisa, Gambling Tax Council, City of Tartu, Milrem, Embassy of Latvia in Estpnia, Startup Estonia.
Event supporters: MassPortal, Eccom, SPARK, SPARK Makerlab, Rohde & Schwarz, Made By, Latitude59 and Hedgehog.

Garage48 hackathons that were started in april 2010 have created nearly 1000 working prototypes and couple of dozens of successful start-ups across 4 continents.


Additional information: Anu Piirisild, Garage48 Hardware & Arts 2017 main organizer, 504 56 06, anu.piirisild [ät]


Viivika Eljand-Kärp Press Officer of the UT Phone: +372 737 5683
Mobile: +372 5354 0689 E-mail: viivika.eljand-karp [ät]  


Category: Entrepreneurship
Viivika Eljand-Kärp (viivikae)

University of Tartu researchers made a breakthrough in the development of human papillomavirus drugs

3 months 1 week ago

Researchers of the University of Tartu and Icosagen Cell Factory OÜ have published an article in PLOS Pathogens journal, which introduces the new cellular monitoring system for evaluating the growth of human papillomavirus (HPV) and the effect of drugs. The new drug screening system could considerably speed up the development of a new HPV drug. 

“Almost all people get a papillomavirus infection at some point in their life but the majority of infections pass relatively harmlessly, in many people the symptoms never appear,” says Mart Toots, who recently defended his doctoral thesis at the University of Tartu. His dissertation studied the life-threatening or oncogenetic types of the virus.

There are more than 200 subtypes of human papillomaviruses and they may cause illnesses ranging from benign proliferations (for example warts) to throat and cervical cancer. Every year six million people are diagnosed with new HPV infections in the U.S. alone. HPV-caused illnesses are treated using a wide variety of methods with varying success, but no specific cure for HPV infection exists so far.

To aid development of an efficient cure, Mart Toots and his colleagues of Icosagen Cell Factory Ltd. and the University of Tartu have created a new method that enables the identification of potentially effective drugs and drug targets.  Unlike previously developed systems, their method takes into account the full HPV genome, as well as all three stages of the viral life cycle that occur during HPV infection.

To develop the new system, researchers genetically engineered HPV genomes by adding bioluminescent proteins that allow easy monitoring of viral growth at any stage of life cycle.  This enables to quickly test whether a potential drug has an effect on the virus or not, and thereby speed up the development of potential drug candidates.

“We are confident that the developed HPV drug screening assay system will allow to identify several novel drug targets and small-molecule drugs,” the authors explain. “These could be used effectively for the elimination of cutaneous and mucosal low-risk and high-risk infections, thereby addressing serious unmet medical need in society, like benign and malignant HPV-positive epithelial tumours,” the researchers described their goals.

So far, the method has been used to screen more than 1600 chemical compounds, several of which were identified as blocking the growth of some high-risk subtypes of HPV.

See video here:

Video of _-wSVHzHcSA

This research was made possible by the collaboration between the Institute of Technology of the University of Tartu, Icosagen AS and Enterprise Estonia.

This research was financed by:

  1. Icosagen Cell Factory OÜ from their own resources.
  2. Icosagen Cell Factory OÜ project EU42266 “Novel platform for development of antiviral drugs against HPV infection” was supported from 2012–2015 by the Enterprise Estonia instrument “Grant for research and development applied research projects” with finances from the European Regional Development Fund.
  3. The University of Tartu Institute of Technology participated in this project as a co-investigator, and used partly resources from the Estonian Research Council (ETAG) grant IUT-20-27, Estonian Science Foundation (ETF) grants 9385 and 9467 and resources of the Centre of Excellence in Chemical Biology (3.2.0101.08-0017).


As a result of this research project, five doctoral dissertations were defended in 2016 and three more have been prepared for defence.

Additional information: Mart Ustav, Professor of Biomedical Technology of the University of Tartu, 509 8600, mart.ustav [ät]

Viivika Eljand-Kärp Press Officer of the UT Phone: +372 737 5683
Mobile: +372 5354 0689 E-mail: viivika.eljand-karp [ät]


Category: Press release
Viivika Eljand-Kärp (viivikae)

Tõnu Esko and Heli Lukner receive the Young Scientist Award of the Cultural Foundation of the President of the Republic

3 months 1 week ago

On Monday, 6 February president Kersti Kaljulaid handed over the Young Scientist Award of the Cultural Foundation of the President of the Republic to Tõnu Esko, and the Special Young Scientist Award for the popularisation of scientific thinking to Heli Lukner.

Laureate of the Young Scientist Award Tõnu Esko is a senior research fellow and the acting director of the Estonian Genome Centre of the University of Tartu. After defending his doctoral thesis in 2012 at the University of Tartu, Tõnu Esko completed postdoctoral studies at Boston Children’s Hospital and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University in Boston, which is one of the best research centres for human genomics in the world. Largely thanks to Tõnu Esko, the UT Estonian Genome Centre has an excellent international cooperation network, including close cooperation with the Broad Institute.

Tõnu Esko has already deserved a place among the global top molecular biology and genetic scientists and was elected among the Thomas Reuters 2016 most influential scientists in the world. Among other things, Tõnu Esko has studied the genetic characteristics of Estonians, identified nations that are genetically the closest to Estonians and described genomes linked to human body length and mental abilities.

“For me personally it is very important that my work at the genome centre has been noticed at the national level. From time to time, people do get recognised for different work in the science community, but in that case it is mainly researchers who notice the activities of other researchers. To get an award from the president, the work you do has to have a wider resonance and therefore I find the award even more significant and influential,” said Tõnu Esko about the importance of the award he was granted.

This year, the Cultural Foundation of the President of the Republic also presented a Special Young Scientist Award for the popularisation of scientific ways of thinking, which went to Heli Lukner, a researcher of physical optics.

Heli Lukner is a senior research fellow and lecturer of physical optics at the Institute of Physics of the University of Tartu. After defending her doctoral thesis in physics at University of Tartu with summa cum laude in 2010, she passed postdoctoral studies at Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light in Erlangen, Germany. The research work of Heli Lukner belongs to the sphere of modern optics and involves wave optics, the distribution of light in optical fibres, non-linear optics and the shaping and measurement of ultrashort pulses in time and space.

Besides her everyday research work, Heli Lukner has been actively involved in the popularisation of science-oriented ways of thinking. She was one of the initiators of the Teadusbuss (the Research Bus) project and in 2005 and 2006, a presenter and project leader of the physics minutes of the morning programme of the Estonian Public Broadcasting. Since 2015 she has been the leader of the photonics club for enterprising students, and one of the panel of judges and a member of the science team of the Rakett 69 (Rocket 69) educational programme for the 6th season.

The awards are valued at 5000 euros. The Young Scientist Award is sponsored by Väino Kaldoja.

Additional information:

Tõnu Esko
Senior Research Fellow of the Estonian Genome Centre of University of Tartu
737 4028
tonu.esko [ät]

Heli Lukner
Senior Research Fellow in Physical Optics
heli.lukner [ät]

Viivika Eljand-Kärp Press Officer of the UT Phone: +372 737 5683
Mobile: +372 5354 0689 E-mail: viivika.eljand-karp [ät]


Category: Press release
Viivika Eljand-Kärp (viivikae)

Conference "Researching with Integrity" on 10 February

3 months 1 week ago

Centre for Ethics, University of Tartu is pleased to invite you to the conference “Researching with Integrity”, which will take place on the 10 February 2017 in the Main Building of the University of Tartu.

The conference “Researching with Integrity” is centred on defining misconduct and questionable practices, and what makes them different from good research. The first draft of the “Estonian Code of Conduct for Research Integrity” initiated by the Estonian Research Council is introduced. Interactive workshops and a panel discussion at the conference offer researchers an opportunity to have their say in the creation of the Estonian Code of Conduct for Research Integrity and to discuss what kind of conduct is recommended, permitted or condemnable in research.

The conference seeks answers to the following questions:

  •          What is the European good practice of research that is being drafted at the moment like?
  •          Why does Estonia need to formulate its own good practice of research?
  •          What kind of principles of research ethics does the European Commission expect researchers to follow?
  •          How to define misconduct, questionable practices and good research? Where is the borderline between the black, white and grey areas?
  •          How do different rules and organisational culture influence researchers’ ethical conduct?
  •          How to promote research integrity?

The keynote speakers are Dr Isidoros Karatzas (Head of the Ethics and Research Integrity Sector, European Commission, DG Research & Innovation), Prof Krista Varantola (Chair of the National Advisory Board on Research Integrity in Finland and a member of the ALLEA workgroup on science and ethics), Dr Daniele Fanelli (Senior Research Scientists at the Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford (METRICS), Stanford University) and Prof Eric Breit (Research Professor at the Work Research Institute, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences).

The conference is organised by the Centre for Ethics in cooperation with the Estonian Research Council. It is supported by the University of Tartu Development Fund and the European Commission funded Horizon 2020 project “Promoting Integrity as an Integral Dimension of Excellence in Research” (PRINTEGER). The conference takes place in the framework of the National Programme “Values Development in Estonian Society 2009–2013” for the years 2015–2020, funded by the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research.

Registration and additional information:

Additional information:
Katrin Velbaum, Project manager at the Centre for Ethics, University of Tartu, +372 551 9184, katrin.velbaum [ät]

Viivika Eljand-Kärp Press Officer of the UT Phone: +372 737 5683
Mobile: +372 5354 0689 E-mail: viivika.eljand-karp [ät]


Category: Press release
Viivika Eljand-Kärp (viivikae)

University of Tartu Art Museum to display rare Egyptian mummies and introduce interesting death culture

3 months 2 weeks ago

From 9 February the Mummy Chamber will be open in UT Art Museum – it is a room filled with stories and inviting to adventures in Ancient Egypt.

“The Mummy Chamber is a versatile place, on the one hand it finally offers a dignified place for the unique mummy boys from our museum collections, and on the other hand, gives a thorough picture of the worldview of ancient Egyptians and information on their death culture and coveted afterlife,” says head of the UT Art Museum Jaanika Anderson. The detailed murals on the chamber walls tell stories of mummification, weighing the heart, the afterlife and a number of other issues. “Here we definitely have something for visitors of any age group to discover,” Anderson says.

The Mummy Chamber, opened as an extension to the permanent exhibition, gives a wonderful opportunity for school teachers to teach ancient cultures, history and art, because the museum now also offers educational programmes on Ancient Egypt, in addition to its ongoing programmes on Greek and Roman cultures.

Additionally, the Mummy Chamber reveals elements preserved of the original function of the room, the university’s 19th-century cash room, in which money for staff salaries was kept behind richly decorated safe doors.

The Mummy Chamber is open for visitors from Monday to Friday 11–17 in the Art Museum in the main building of the University of Tartu.

Idea and concept of the Mummy Chamber: team of the University of Tartu Art Museum (Jaanika Anderson, Ingrid Sahk, Kristiina Tiideberg, Külli Valk, Anne Arus, Maria Väinsar, Liisi Pabstel)

Interior design: Mari Kurismaa

Murals: Kristiina Ribelus and Pille Vilgota

Sarcophagus and Canopic jar models: Eike Eplik, Anne Arus, Arvi Kuld

Furniture: Wako Värkstuba


The exhibition was created with the support of the Estonian Research Council, the European Social Fund, Integration and Migration Foundation “Our People” and the University of Tartu.

Additional information:

Additional information: Jaanika Anderson, Head of UT Art Museum, 5344 7404, jaanika.anderson [ät]

Viivika Eljand-Kärp Press Officer of the UT Phone: +372 737 5683
Mobile: +372 5354 0689 E-mail: viivika.eljand-karp [ät]


Category: Press release
Viivika Eljand-Kärp (viivikae)
1 hour 18 minutes ago
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