The Pro Scientia prize is awarded by the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters to a person or instance noted for speaking out, writing or engaging in other activities to the benefit of scientific study and research, thereby promoting the role of science in society. In 2023, the prize is awarded to MD and professor Juhani Knuuti. The value of the prize is 10 000 euros.
Professor Juhani Knuuti works as the director and chief physician of the Turku PET Centre, a research institute operated jointly by the University of Turku, Åbo Akademi and Turku University Hospital. Knuuti has especially studied blood circulation and metabolism of the heart muscle in relation to coronary artery disease and cardiac failure.
In addition to his successful career in research, Knuuti has gained renown as a staunch health educator and populariser and defender of science. Knuuti corrects erroneous and sometimes even untrue health-related claims in his presentations, works, blogs and on social media. He has a popularising column called Tiede & Terveys [Science & Health] on the website of the newspaper Turun Sanomat and he writes on Uusi Suomi’s Puheenvuoro column platform. Furthermore, he also regularly contributes to other publications, such as the Professor Blog of the Finnish Union of University Professors.
The Finnish Academy of Science and Letters considers Juhani Knuuti to be an extremely meritorious advocate of science: Knuuti helps Finns find correct information. Bringing forth scientific knowledge in relation to various health-related claims also helps to stabilise society.
The purpose of the Pro Scientia prize is to highlight such valuable work in the cause of science that is often easily overlooked by the media and the general public. Professor Knuuti’s work is an excellent example of selfless behaviour for the betterment of science and society.
The prize was awarded in a ceremony held by the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters in Ritarihuone in Helsinki on Monday, 13 November 2023.