Building the Future through Collecting and Using Genomic Data – Case of Finland

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 14:45
Location: Hörsaal BIG 1 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Heta TARKKALA, University of Helsinki, Finland
In Finland biobanks combine abstract future and progress of biomedical science with expectations of boosting population health, patient care and economic growth. Visions of personalized and translational medicine are among the main goals of biobanks in Finland, which are mainly built around publicly funded hospitals or research institutes. At the same time the state has put effort on strategic work towards the goal of utilizing genomic information for the benefit of both citizens as well as competitiveness of the Finnish health care sector. The state has underlined this commitment for example through Health Sector Growth Strategy for Research and Innovation Activities in 2014. In addition Finnish Genome Strategy was proposed in 2015. The vision is that by 2020 genomic information is used in the daily health care of citizens and the people will by then be “empowered to improve their own health by effective use of genomic information” (Genome Strategy 2015, 5).

In biobanking and in the strategy work by the state the national population is framed as a source of value through vast amounts of register data and samples available for research use. However, even though Finnish population is often framed as a valuable source of genetic information due to its homogeneity, the “populations” in biomedical research of today are not necessarily the same as national populations. In the presentation I will analyse how this tension illustrates well the way visions of the future in relation to usage of genomic data are built in Finnish society. Theoretically I will utilize the concept of sociotechnical imaginaries. The presentation is based on i.e. 41 interviews, fieldnotes from 20 biobank- or biomedicine related seminars and policy documents collected widely from the field of biobanking and biomedicine in Finland.