Groundbreaking research of blood cells brought the author a scholarship

On the 13th of October, along with the celebrations of the 385th birthday of the medical faculty, the Valda and Bernard Õun Scholarship will be awarded to Silva Kasela, a specialist at the Estonian Genome Center and a doctoral graduate of University of Tartu.

In her research “Pathogenic implications for autoimmune mechanisms derived by comparative eQTL analysis of CD4+ versus CD8+ T cells“, Kasela looked into the gene regulations in specific types of white blood cells and their connection to autoimmune diseases. The inappropriate activation or lack of regulation of these cells may contribute to the onset and course of several inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

“The topic is important in today’s medical field, as it explains how genetic information helps us understand the genetic paths of illnesses, which in turn helps to discover how certain genetic markers of the illnesses impact a person’s wellbeing,” the author Kasela said. “The information gathered here helps us inch closer to using the human genome in drug development and clinical practice. Our findings specifically have the potential of use in medicine targeted at type 1 diabetes.”

The head of the scholarship committee, professor of molecular immunology at UT, Pärt Peterson confirmed that the scholarship was competitive and agreed with Kasela’s assessment of the potential of the research: “The work may have actual impact on new medicines used to treat diabetes. The author also published some of the work in a prestigious science journal “PLoS Genetics” and those specific qualities made this piece of scientific research particularly outstanding.”

The Valda and Bernard Õun Memorial Foundation was created to the University of Tartu Foundation with the purpose of recognizing the published research of UT students in the field of biomedicine. The scholarship is 5000€ and is appointed from the total donation of 500 000€, made by Valda Õun in her will.

Additional information: Katrin Linno, UT Foundation assistant, (+372) 5657 1221,


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