In this series, we’d like to introduce some of our long-time MedEngine employees. Aino Vesikansa is a Senior Scientific Consultant on the Medical Data Science team.
Aino is an open, easily excitable person enjoying an active life and analytical conversations with people of diverse backgrounds. She likes to challenge herself and lays on the competitive side. “You rarely see me laying on the sofa, if not reading a good book! Friends would likely describe me as an active, down-to-earth, and loyal person.”
Understanding and promoting human health has been a driver throughout Aino’s career. A passion for understanding the mystery of the human brain led Aino to become an expert in neuroscience. “During my MSc studies, I got excited about the function and mystery of the brain, which led me to do a PhD in neuroscience. Aino recalls the excitement of making electrophysiological recordings during her studies and how she was able to explore the brain activity in real-time. “I still think that the mystery of the brain is very exciting. To learn how a brain, even some tiny part of it, functions, is highly motivating to me”, she summarizes.
“When I joined MedEngine, the team was about 10 persons in total, compared to over 40 now!“
After receiving her PhD from the University of Helsinki, Aino has worked as a post-doctoral scientist and as a coordinator at the Scandinavian Physiological Society. “I continued research in the academy for some years before joining MedEngine in 2018. I was really excited about the possibility of working in a small, growing company, which puts its efforts not only to business but to the people enabling it. When I joined MedEngine, the team was about 10 persons in total, compared to over 40 now, so things have changed a lot during the years with the growth of the company. When I started, it was easy to know what was going on at the company level, and to know even something about all the projects going on.” Aino feels lucky that she’s still able to work with some of the colleagues who started at the same time as she did. “I feel it very important that there are people with whom you can share the history and experiences from the past, and who have experienced the change from a Helsinki-based company to a Nordic one.”
“I really love scientific, analytical thinking and a chance to utilize it in my work.”
“What inspires me, in addition to nice and supporting colleagues, is the projects and medical science. I can still say that I am excited when we get a new project or when the results come together to finalize a project. It’s highly rewarding to plan the project with a client, to think how we can best fulfill their needs and how the research and medical data can answer their questions and help them to succeed. I really love scientific, analytical thinking and a chance to utilize it in my work—to think about what the data means and how it could be implemented“, Aino vocalizes her motivation.
“At MedEngine, I have been privileged to work in many kinds of projects utilizing medical data in different therapeutic areas. I’ve worked with real-world evidence projects in Finland and other Nordic countries, as well as in several projects developing new ways of utilizing medical data, e.g., creation of an external arm for a clinical study and leveraging machine-learning based methodologies to predict disease progression and treatment outcomes.”
Have there been any challenges to mention and how has Aino overcome them in her professional life? “I think challenges are an integral part of life in general and they are not something one should try to avoid. I see challenges as a way to develop both in the work perspective and personally. Some may say that I even seek challenges and am inspired by then finding solutions to them”, Aino comments.
“When working in a growing company you regularly encounter different kinds of challenges. For me the main and also the most interesting challenge is to ensure that all new team members get good support while ensuring that projects are conducted efficiently with high quality. In my opinion, a solution to all kinds of challenges comes through discussion and transparency. The more open we are to each other, the better we can understand each other”, Aino says.
“Doing sports is a big part of me—not a hobby but a lifestyle!”
In her free time Aino likes to stay active. “The biggest challenge is that there would be too many interesting things to do!”, she laughs. “Doing sports is a big part of me—not a hobby but a lifestyle! I especially enjoy endurance outdoor sports like running, cycling and cross-country skiing. But I’m always open to trying new activities as well. At home I have two school-aged kids, two bunnies, and a Finnish Lapphund puppy, which take care of me not becoming passive. One of my kids plays football actively and the other one’s into triathlon, and these hobbies take a lot of my time, too. I also enjoy cultural activities, art exhibitions, literature and so forth. If I want to relax, I spend some time in the kitchen baking cakes for the family and friends, as this is a kind of mindfulness training for me!”, Aino concludes.
Speaking of which, if you wish, you can find Aino on Instagram as @tohtoritorttu, the Cake Doctor!
Thank you Aino for this chat—and great to have you among us!