The BioMag laboratory is headed by the Professor of Translational Neuroimaging, employed jointly by HUS and Aalto University. The laboratory examines brain functioning by measuring magnetic fields produced by the brain using magnetoencephalography (MEG).

The BioMag research laboratory detects and observes the magnetic fields of brain cells. Brain function is electrical activity generated by nerve cells. An active nerve cell or neuron generates a magnetic field around itself. When a region of the brain is activated, tens of thousands of neurons are activated, generating a magnetic field significant enough to be detectable with an MEG device.

“A traditional EEG gives us information on brain function to an accuracy of milliseconds, but we cannot know exactly where the activity is taking place, because an EEG is taken through the skull, the cerebrospinal fluid and the scalp. An MEG device, on the other hand, also gives a precise location, which is crucial for instance for surgical treatment of epilepsy patients; it may be possible to delimit and then remove the part of the brain that is causing the seizures,” says Hanna Renvall, who holds the HUS and Aalto University joint professorship.

The BioMag laboratory at Meilahti Hospital has one of the three MEG devices currently in Finland. It is the only one used for diagnosing patients. The other two devices, in Jyväskylä and at Aalto University, are used only for research.

Joint professorship for shared goals

In 2019, HUS and Aalto University signed an agreement to explore research and innovation cooperation in more depth. The joint professorship is derived from that agreement and is the first appointment shared by HUS and Aalto University.

The purpose here is to facilitate the transfer of technological advancements to HUS and to develop imaging tools in collaboration with businesses. In her joint professorship, Renvall teaches at Aalto University, develops diagnostic methods for epilepsy and brain injury patients at the BioMag laboratory and engages in research for instance on the early identification of memory disorders.