Professor Jaakko Tuomilehto qualified as MD in 1973 and MA in sociology in 1975 and PhD in Epidemiology and Public Health in 1975. He is currently working as the Chief Scientific Officer at Dasman Diabetes Institute in Kuwait. He is Professor Emeritus of Public Health of the University of Helsinki, Finland. His past affiliations include World Health Organization, University of Kuopio, Finland, the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki, Finland, Danube-University Krems in Austria and King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
His research interests include the epidemiology and prevention of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer and dementia. He has been involved with epidemiological studies in many countries in Europe and other regions of the world, e.g. China, India, Japan, Pacific Islands, Latin America, Middle East, USA, and Mauritius.
He has coordinated numerous scientific research projects, and contributed many landmark studies including the North Karelia Project in Finland, the 1st community-based prevention programme for CVD in the 1970s. He initiated the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study (DPS) that demonstrated a 58% reduction in incidence type 2 diabetes (T2D) with lifestyle intervention. This finding was later confirmed by similar trials from many countries, including USA, UK, Netherlands, Japan, China, India. The experiences from the DPS were used to design and implementation of a first-ever national diabetes prevention program in Finland. He developed a simple, non-laboratory T2D risk score FINDRISC (FINnish Diabetes RIsk Score) that has been validated and applied widely in Europe and elsewhere.
He was the PI of the WHO DIAMOND Project mapping the incidence of childhood T1D worldwide during the 1990s in >100 countries. He also established the DECODE/DECODA (Diabetes Epidemiology-Collaborative analysis of Diagnostic Criteria in Europe/Asia) studies that have assessed the criteria for the diagnosis of diabetes, and evaluated the importance of postprandial glucose for detection and prognosis of T2D and other disturbances of glucose regulation. He has contributed to many controlled trials in hypertension, dyslipidaemia, and CVD.
He has also been involved in studies on the role of genetic factors in chronic disease aetiology. The main focus of his genetic studies has been on diabetes and cardiovascular risk factors. The most prominent study is the FUSION (Finland-United States Investigation of Non-insulin dependent diabetes genetics) that he has carried out with NIH and several US universities for the last 20 years.
He has been acting as a member several American Diabetes Association (ADA), International Diabetes Federation (IDF), European Society of Cardiology (ESC) and WHO committees on diabetes and cardiovascular disease. He is actively involved in several other committees, editorial boards of scientific journals and advisory boards nationally and internationally, and has been chairing multiple scientific organisations. Currently he serves as the Editor-in-Chief of Primary Care Diabetes journal and Editorial Board member in many other scientific journals. He has actively participated as a faculty member in numerous international postgraduate courses on epidemiology and prevention of diabetes and non-communicable diseases during the last 35 years in different parts of the world; in the Cambridge diabetes epidemiology course faculty he has served since 1983.
He has received many prestigious scientific awards. He has been a faculty member in many international postgraduate training courses on diabetes and cardiovascular disease in many parts of the world. He has contributed to over 1700 scientific peer-reviewed publications, and is among the most cited authors in the field of diabetes worldwide (Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher) with >120,000 citations. His h-index is 162.