HiLIFE is a new life science institute at the University of Helsinki established in 2017 supporting high quality research across campuses and life science faculties. HiLIFE builds on existing strengths and new recruits and partnerships to create an attractive international environment for solving grand challenges in health, food, and environment. HiLIFE coordinates research infrastructures in life sciences and provides research-based interdisciplinary training. HiLIFE supports researchers within partner faculties and contains as units the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland FIMM, the Institute of Biotechnology, and Neuroscience Center. In 2017 HiLIFE has a staff of about 600 and a total budget of 53 M€.

HiLIFE is recruiting at all levels including tenure-track assistant/associate professors. The HiLIFE Fellows program forms a  a forum for interactions and is instrumental in developing HiLIFE in its early days. The HiLIFE Innovation and Corporate Collaboration program is initiating with e.g. HiPOC proof of concept grants, the SLUSH Science event and will be developed with the HiLIFE Innovation and Corporate Collaboration Council. HiLIFE Research Programs are initiating in 2018.

Outstanding researchers

We believe that breakthroughs emerge by giving the most talented researchers sufficient resources and freedom to pursue their ambitions. Tenure track professorships provide scientists with strong track record clear career path across life sciences. With our educational programs we aim to launch careers of gifted scientists.

Excellent international environment

Here you will be part of an international team, using English as your working language. Our cutting edge infrastructures and services enable top science and education in an interdisciplinary, international environment. Not to mention that Finland is an outstanding country for families with young kids with world-class public day-care and education, and Helsinki as a city offers a range of foreign language schooling options.

Innovative research

We encourage development and transfer of new knowledge for the good of society, and provide a clear path for technology transfer and innovation. Within the Health Capital Helsinki initiative we aim to foster a climate where collaboration with industry thrives.

HiLIFE Director has overall responsibility of operations according to the University Regulations and HiLIFE Rules of Procedure and prepares matters for the Board.  

Professor Tomi Mäkelä was appointed as the Founding Director of HiLIFE in September 2015 and as Director in June 2017.
“I'm very excited about the opportunity to lead the first steps of HiLIFE” Mäkelä notes. “The first recruits to HiLIFE Tenure Track positions are moving in, and the HiLIFE Fellows Program engages the university's top scientists to work together in new ways. The HiLIFE-RIA research infrastructure assessment provides an excellent view of current services and future needs for development. Theres a lot of excitement in bridging top research and the innovation ecosystem  developed within e.g. Health Capital Helsinki. The HiLIFE aim to link top science and education across campuses and is truly a joint effort. WIth the support of the Board and Scientific Council I'm confident  this effort to create attractive conditions for top young researchers will succeed".
Mäkelä is a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and has served as Director of the Institute of Biotechnology and of the Research Programs Unit of the Faculty of Medicine. He has also been active in enhancing researcher career development. His scientific interest is in cell signaling and he is Vice Director of the Center of Excellence in Translational Cancer Biology. Mäkelä acts as panel chair at ERC, and as board member of Biocenter Finland and Finnish Academy of Science and Letters. More in this short CV.

HiLIFE Board  1.8.2016-31.7.2020

Vice Rector Jouko Väänänen
Members (deputies):
Professor Johanna Björkroth (Associate Professor Vincenzo Cerullo)
Doctoral student Hanna Castro (Doctoral Student Julia Casado); student members term two years
Group Leader Mikko Frilander (Senior Researcher Gretchen Repasky)
Professor Elina Ikonen (Professor Lauri Aaltonen)
Professor Jaakko Kangasjärvi (Anna-Liisa Laine)
Research Director Anne Pitkäranta (Director Petri Bono), HUS Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa
Dean Risto Renkonen (Professor Per-Henrik Groop)
President, CEO Mari Walls (Research Director Johanna Buchert), LUKE Natural Resources Institute Finland

The duties of the Board:

  • discuss the annual target programme (Action Plan) including human resources plan and budget;
  • decide on research programs based on evaluation;
  • submit a proposal on operative units based on evaluation;
  • submit a proposal to the Rector for members and chairperson to the HiLIFE Scientific Council and appoint Scientific Advisory Boards when appropriate; 
  • submit a proposal on members and chairperson of HiLIFE Innovation and Business Cooperation Council to the Rector;
  • provide a statement on research infrastructures based on evaluation; and
  • resolve matters referred to it by the director because of their importance or far-reaching nature. 

According to the Rules of Procedure The Board consists of 5-9 members representing high quality research. 1-2 members represent interaction partners of the university. HiLIFE personnel selects one member and a personal deputy. Doctoral students at the University of Helsinki select one member and a personal deputy for a two year term. 

HiLIFE Scientific Council Anne-Claude Gavin, Kai Simons, Anders Björklund, Ole Petter Ottersen, Tomi Mäkelä, Fiona Watt, Marja Jäättelä, Alan L. Schwartz, Kristiina Vuori, Josef Penninger, Duncan Maskell and Mary Power (missing Detlef Weigel)

 HiLIFE Scientific Council (from left) Anne-Claude Gavin, Kai Simons, Anders Björklund, Ole Petter Ottersen, Tomi Mäkelä, Fiona Watt, Marja Jäättelä, Alan L. Schwartz, Kristiina Vuori, Josef Penninger, Duncan Maskell and Mary Power (missing Detlef Weigel) 


The HiLIFE Scientific Council supports the HiLIFE Board and Directors in issues related to scientific activities. The Council consists of 8-10 external internationally accomplished life science area researchers and it is appointed for four year terms.

The duties of the Scientific Council are to evaluate HiLIFE activities and organization in the context of the University; make initiatives and provide statements on HiLIFE's scientific direction; provide statements on competency of applicants for director and operative unit director positions; participate in the selection of HiLIFE tenure track assistant/associate professors and in evaluations for their continuation on the tenure track; submit a proposal on recipients of HiLIFE Fellow funding based on evaluation; provide a statement on applications for HiLIFE research programs; and submit proposals on the organization and funding of shared use life science research infrastructures.

HiLIFE Scientific Council Meetings:

  • November 3, 2017 

HiLIFE is an independent research institute regulated by University regulations,HiLIFE-specific Rules of Procedure, and Director's Instructions. The Director is nominated by the Rector, and has overall responsibility for operations. The Board also nominated by the Rector enhances the operations of the institute as a whole in accordance with the University’s objectives and strategy and HiLIFE's annual target programme (Action Plan).

Research is organized as research groups and research infrastructures within research programs and operative units, and HiLIFE can have affiliated research groups from other universities and organizations.

HiLIFE has an international  Scientific Council evaluating its overall operations and Scientific Advisory Boards evaluating researchers in more detail in specific areas e.g. within operative units. HiLIFE also has an Innovation and Corporate Cooperation Council  promoting application of new knowledge,  innovations, and  corporate collaborations.