Kimmo Porkka appointed professor of personalised cancer medicine

The University of Helsinki has appointed Professor Kimmo Porkka as professor of personalised cancer medicine. The professorship is Finland’s first in the field, established in conjunction with the University of Helsinki and HUS Helsinki University Hospital.

The position is permanent, and its first five years are funded with a donation from three pharmaceutical companies, Bayer, Novartis and Roche. 

In his career, Porkka has long been investigating targeted drug therapies for leukaemias, in recent years particularly precision therapies for acute leukaemia and their promotion as part of inpatient care. In addition, Porkka has contributed to the development of drug therapies for blood diseases in both preclinical and clinical stages.

“Personalising cancer therapies, or taking into consideration the characteristics of each individual patient’s disease, is at the core of curing an increasingly large share of patients through targeted and safe therapies. However, it requires broad-based integration of various information sources and smooth cooperation between different parties, as well as extensive national and international networking. The professorship, now established in conjunction with the University of Helsinki and HUS Helsinki University Hospital, provides a new opportunity to focus on the practical implementation of precision therapies in Finland. I accept the challenge with enthusiasm and humility,” Kimmo Porkka says.

“I thank Bayer, Novartis and Roche for their donation and successful cooperation. The Faculty will attach to the professorship significant research funding associated with the iCAN Flagship, which makes me believe that this donation and the overall effort will generate a great deal of success in cancer research and therapies,” Dean Anne Remes says. 

The professorship also includes the secondary position of chief physician at the HUS Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“Professor Kimmo Porkka has pioneered the establishment in Finland of collaboration between a network in basic and translational research in precision cancer therapies, and clinical researchers treating patients. The new professorship will speed up the application of research findings as part of patient care,” says Director of Division Johanna Mattson from the HUS Comprehensive Cancer Center.

International funders believe in Finland’s pioneering role

For the first five years, the professorship will be funded with a donation from the pharmaceutical companies Bayer, Novartis and Roche. Focusing on cancer in their international operations, all three companies wish to enable the development and implementation of precision cancer therapies in Finland.

From the perspective of the funders, Finland is an excellent environment for promoting research and treatment practices in the field. An academic research field of a high standard, a favourable attitude towards research and innovation in the healthcare sector, and health data resources constitute a unique framework for operations.

The professorship gives a great boost to research on precision cancer therapies in Finland, making it possible for more and more Finnish patients to benefit from the opportunities offered by precision diagnostics and drug therapies. Another hope is that interest in international research investments will grow and, for example, that the number of clinical trials will increase in Finland.

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