Centres of excellence

Centres of excellence join several high-level research teams working on similar research themes to conduct high-level international research and to develop and apply innovative ideas. Centres of excellence lay the foundation for strengthening the cooperation and competitiveness of Estonian research in the European Research Area.    

The work of centres of excellence is funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

The University of Tartu is the lead partner in three centres of excellence.

Centre of Excellence for Genomics and Translational Medicine

Partner: Tallinn University of Technology

Head: Andres Metspalu, Professor of Genomics and Biobanking

The goal of the Centre of Excellence for Genomics and Translational Medicine is to discover links between human genome variants and the mechanism of diseases. The new knowledge resulting from the work of the centre of excellence enables to develop new strategies for improving public health, preventing and treatment of diseases, and personalised medicine.

The main object of research is the UT Estonian Biobank, to which more than 207,000 people have donated their blood samples and descriptions of their health status. In the first phase, the full DNA sequences of the 2,500 gene donors are studied in great detail and, in particular, the effect of rare genetic variants on various traits, focusing on mitochondrial, immune and neuropsychiatric diseases. To reliably link different genetic variants with phenotypes it is necessary to understand the nature of human genetic variation. To this end, the genomes of the 2,500 Estonian biobank participants are compared with the global genetic variability panel of the Estonian Biocentre (about 450 genomes from about 150 populations). Next, molecular and cell biology methods as well as animal models are used to study the mechanisms of action of genetic variants.

The centre of excellence also plans training courses for young researchers and other activities to help them develop as independent researchers. As part of the outreach activities, the centre of excellence launches a series of seminars, inviting renowned international experts in the field to give public lectures at the University of Tartu 2–3 times a year.

Website of the centre of excellence

Centre of Excellence in Molecular Cell Engineering

Partner: Tallinn University of Technology 

Head: Tanel Tenson, Professor of Technology of Antimicrobial Compounds

In recent decades, approaches from engineering sciences have been successfully applied to biology, which enables to create systems with entirely novel properties. Such technologies are used to produce a range of flavours, fuels and medicines. Biotechnologies are also effectively combined with chemistry. For example, biologically created precursor molecules can be developed into medicines by using chemical modification. It is also possible to synthesise chemicals with specific effect on living cells.

The centre of excellence brings together research teams with expertise in modifying biological systems and producing chemicals. Practical applications include the creation of novel solutions for a sustainable bioeconomy, the engineering of cellular biosensors and the development of novel bioactive compounds.

Website of the centre of excellence

Centre of Excellence “Advanced materials and high-technology devices for energy recuperation systems”

Partner: Tallinn University of Technology

Head: Enn Lust, Professor of Physical Chemistry, Academician

The Centre of Excellence “Advanced materials and high-technology devices for energy recuperation systems” focuses on the development of functional materials for environmentally friendly and sustainable energy technologies, sensorics and nanoelectronics. The research teams of the centre of excellence collaborate to develop the full spectrum of energy sources, storage and conversion devices; design and synthesise the necessary materials and components and study their physical, chemical and technological properties, as well as design and test laboratory and small-scale prototypes. The general goal is to develop basic and applied knowledge on materials and devices for innovative society and to educate specialists in innovative energy and materials technologies.  

Website of the centre of excellence

As a partner, the University of Tartu participates in six centres of excellence



         Lead partner: Tallinn University of Technology, Jarek Kurnitski


         Lead partner: Tallinn University of Technology, Maarja Kruusmaa


         Lead partner: Estonian University of Life Sciences, Ülo Niinemets


         Lead partner: National Institute of Chemical Physics and Biophysics, Martti Raidal


         Lead partner: National Institute of Chemical Physics and Biophysics, Urmas Nagel


        Lead partner: Estonian Literary Museum, Mare Kõiva

#research #for society
Some of the most common basidiocarp morphotypes in Dacrymycetes.

Doctoral defence: Anton Savchenko “Taxonomic studies in Dacrymycetes: Cerinomyces and allied taxa”

kuvatõmmis projekti Väike Nirvana videost

Research news: ethnic roots of Estonian peoples, problematic use of social networking sites, reducing the fear of pain, and a novel solution for wound treatment

#research #for society

Coronavirus infections down by more than a third