Citation: The Specialist Profile Series. Kuusi M. EpiNorth 2010; 11.
Name: Markku Kuusi
Background: Medical doctor, Specialist in Infectious Diseases, EPIET graduate
Title: Senior Epidemiologist, Head of Unit
Organization: National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland
Specialization: Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases
Hobby: Skiing, cycling, tennis, music
What are your responsibilities at the National Institute for Health and Welfare?
I am head of the Unit for Infectious Disease Surveillance and Control with approximately 30 employees. This unit is responsible for the surveillance of infectious diseases in Finland. We also conduct outbreak investigations, which mainly focus on food- and waterborne outbreaks. We conduct surveillance of healthcare-associated infections and give advice on travel medicine to healthcare professionals. We also produce guidelines on public health management of various infections for healthcare professionals.
What motivated you to devote yourself to infectious disease epidemiology?
As an infectious disease clinician I noticed that my knowledge of the epidemiology and control of infectious diseases was insufficient and I wanted to learn more about these fields. In 1997, I was accepted in the EPIET programme, and after the two-year training I wanted to continue in the field of infectious disease epidemiology.
Which of your professional achievements brings you the most satisfaction?
I have been very involved in outbreak investigations that are often very exciting detective work. I guess that finding out the source of the outbreak is always rewarding.
What was your most difficult professional moment?
Probably the huge media attention associated with the SARS outbreak was the most stressful time during my career. We had similar pressure later during a large waterborne outbreak and during pandemic influenza, but then we were better prepared.
What do you think are the most important achievements in infectious disease epidemiology so far?
Modern methods for investigating outbreaks are very close to me. Register-based possibilities that require advanced statistical methods have revealed e.g. important consequences of various infections.
How did you start collaborating in the EpiNorth project?
I have been involved in this collaboration between the Nordic and Baltic countries and Northwestern Russia since the late 1990s.
What do you find the most interesting aspect of the EpiNorth project?
It is great that the project brings together colleagues from many countries with different backgrounds and experiences that provide an opportunity for networking with colleagues and learning from each other.
What do you consider the most important achievement of the EpiNorth project?
The EpiNorth journal and web pages are very useful, and of course creating the network of colleagues from the whole project area.
What is your favourite book and why?
Hard to say, there are so many books. I like to read novels. The last one was Paulo Coelho’s Zahir. A very exciting story of a real journey, but even more interestingly about a journey to the main character’s own mind.
Aside from your professional career, what is your greatest ambition in life?
One ambition is to visit all the national parks in Finland. I like to hike in the nature, both in Finland and elsewhere.
What would be your wishes for the younger colleagues in the field of epidemiology?
I think it is a good idea to get experience of various aspects of infectious disease epidemiology: surveillance, outbreak investigations, infectious disease control, etc. Gaining experience from international assignments is a good idea. Doing research and publishing the findings is also important.