In discussions with top medical experts of the time, notably Pentti I Halonen and Lauri Kalaja, both professors of medicine with a profound interest in cardiology, Nurmi came to realize that the causes of atherosclerosis - narrowing of the arterial lumen and formation of a blood thrombus leading to infarction - were far from being completely understood. It was perhaps rather predictable that a man of Nurmi's calibre and character would confidently set out to solve the riddle of atherosclerosis. He put his words into action by creating a foundation in his name for the purpose of financing and supporting the research and treatment of cardiovascular diseases.
The Paavo Nurmi foundation was established at a meeting held at the Deaconess Hospital in Helsinki on March 11th, 1968. In attendance besides Nurmi himself were Professors Halonen and Kalaja, Arne Hovitie, a bank manager, and Pekka Kare, a lawyer. These men constituted the first Board of Trustees. The foundation was registered at the Ministry of Justice on April 3rd, 1968. According to the articles of foundation: 'The foundation's name shall be the Paavo Nurmi Foundation and its place of residence Helsinki. The purpose of the foundation is to contribute to the research of heart and vascular diseases and public welfare in Finland to support the work being done these fields by distributing grants and financial aid for carrying out these tasks, and also to support and contribute to the intentions of the foundation in any other way accepted by the Board'. The principle donations consisted ot shares in housing corporations, stocks and cash. It was also stated that: 'returns on the original capital can be used to realize the intentions of the foundation. The original capital of the foundation and any other property shall be invested in a financially sound way to bring returns'.