Administratively HiLIFE is a research institute independent of the University’s faculties, the director of which is directly accountable to the Rector.

HiLIFE is regulated by University regulations and HiLIFE-specific Rules of Procedure (pdf). Director is responsible for HiLIFE strategic plans, overall budget and human resources plan, and overseeing organization of evaluation of HiLIFE activities by HiLIFE Scientific Council. The Board, also nominated by the Rector, together with the director develops Institute's activities in accordance with the University’s strategy and recommendations of the Scientific Council that evaluates HiLIFE activities and organization in the context of the university, and provides recommendations on future plans and scientific directions.

HiLIFE contains the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM), Institute of Biotechnology (BI) and Neuroscience Center (NC) as units. Unit (BI/FIMM/NC) directors are responsible for their unit’s daily operations. Management team composed of HiLIFE director, unit directors, 1-4 experts on HiLIFE’s umbrella activities and the Head of administration that supports the director in preparing, implementing, and monitoring matters and decisions, and in internal and external communication and collaboration.

HiLIFE’s leadership and staff are supported by University Services so that academic community can focus on research, teaching, studying and public engagement.

HiLIFE Director Jari Koistinaho

HiLIFE Director Jari Koistinaho has overall responsibility of operations according to the University Regulations and HiLIFE Rules of Procedure and prepares matters for the Board.  Jari's research focuses on modelling neurological and psychatric disorders using human iPSC-based cell model in vitro and in vivo.

Unit Directors


Samuli Ripatti

Samuli Ripatti is an internationally recognised and distinguished researcher in human genetics whose educational background is in statistics. Throughout his career, his research focus has been on applying and developing biostatistical methods to address scientific questions in medical and population genetics. In 2013, Ripatti was appointed Professor of Biometry at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Helsinki. Furthermore, he is the director of the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in Complex Disease Genetics.

To contact Samuli Ripatti, please e-mail to:, or contact Susanna Rosas.

Vice Director

Elisabeth Widen

To contact Elisabeth Widen, please e-mail to:


Juha Huiskonen

Juha Huiskonen is the director of the Institute of Biotechnology and Professor of Structural Biology. 

Huiskonen’s research group - Laboratory of Structural Biology (LSB) – aims at understanding the structure and function of biological macromolecules and their complexes, such as molecular machines and viruses.

To contact Juha Huiskonen, please email to 

Vice Director

Maria Vartiainen

Maria Vartiainen is a research director at the Institute of Biotechnology and the scientific head of the Light Microscopy Unit (LMU) at BI.

Vartiainen’s research group studies the mechanisms that mediate the dynamic organization of the cell nucleus, with special emphasis on the role of actin in this process.


Satu Palva

P.O 21, Haartmaninkatu 8, Biomedicum 1, 2. floor, Room B222b
FI-00014 University of Helsinki

Vice Director

Sari Lauri

P.O 63 (Haartmaninkatu 8)
FI-00014 University of Helsinki


HiLIFE Board

The duties of the Board

  • discuss the institute’s implementation plan as well as the human resources policy and budget contained in it;
  • discuss and resolve matters that the director has referred to the Board based on their  importance or far-reaching nature;
  • provide a statement on the appointment of Level 3 teaching and research personnel and Level 4 research directors for three year or a longer term;
  • decide on HiLIFE research programs based on evaluation;
  • submit a proposal on HiLIFE operative units  based on evaluation;
  • submit a proposal on members and chairperson of HiLIFE Scientific Council to the Rector and to appoint Scientific Advisory Boards when necessary;
  • submit a proposal on members and chairperson of HiLIFE Innovation and Corporate Relations Council to the Rector; and
  • provide a statement on life science research infrastructures based on evaluation.

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 Board 1.8.2020-31.7.2024

Members (deputies)

HiLIFE Scientific Council

The HiLIFE Scientific Council supports the HiLIFE Board and leadership in developing activities and scientific directions. The Council is appointed for four year terms and consists of 8-10 external internationally accomplished life science area researchers and leaders.

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 (grand challenges); and 
  • submit proposals on the organization and funding of shared use life science research infrastructures.

HiLIFE Scientific Council 1 June 2022 - 31 December 2026


  • Professor Alan L. Schwartz, Washington University at St. Louis, US 


  • Research director Søren Brunak, Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research, University of Copenhagen, Denmark  
  • Director Daniela Corda, National Research Council, Italy 
  • Director Josef Martin Penninger, Life Sciences Institute, University of British Columbia, Canada; Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences IMBA, Austria 
  • Professor Mary Power, Department of Integrative Biology, UC Berkeley & Angelo Coast Range Reserve, US 
  • Professor Christine R. Rose, Institute of Neurobiology, Heinrich Heine University Duesseldorf, Germany 
  • Professor Kristiina Vuori, Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery lnstitute, La Jolla, US 
  • Professor (emeritus) Anthony Watts, Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford, UK 
  • Director Detlef Weigel, Max Planck Institute in Developmental Biology, Tübingen, Germany 

Invited expert members:

Representatives of HiLIFE Units’ Scientific Advisory Boards (SABs)

  • Poul Nissen (SAB of Institute of Biotechnology),  
  • Mikael Simons (SAB of Neuroscience Center), and  
  • Cornelia van Duijn (SAB of Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland FIMM) 


  • Rector Ole Petter Ottersen, Karolinska Institutet (SC Chair 5/2017-4/2022)
  • Professor Anne-Claude Gavin;  Department for Cell Physiology and Metabolism, Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva (5/2017-4/2022)
  • Director Fiona Watt,  Centre for Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine, King's College London (5/2017-5/2018)
  • Senior Pro Vice Chancellor Duncan Maskell, Cambridge University (5/2017-5/2019)
  • Professor Anders Björklund, Wallenberg Neuroscience Center, Lund University (5/2017-12/2018; SAB of the Neuroscience Center)
  • Director Emeritus Kai Simons, Max Planck Institute Cell Biology and Genetics (5/2017-12/2018; SAB of the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland FIMM) 
Scientific Advisory Boards of the Units

The FIMM SAB consists of seven internationally recognized experts in the institute's fields of research and technological activities. 

SAB visits FIMM every two years. Based on the visit and documentation provided beforehand, the SAB prepares an evaluation report.

FIMM SAB for the term 1 January 2023 – 31 December 2026


  • Professor Cornelia van Duijn, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam (NL)


  • Professor Carl-Henrik Heldin, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Uppsala University, Sweden
  • Scientific director and professor, Nadia Rosenthal, The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine, US, and Imperial College London, UK
  • Professor Ramnik Xavier, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, US
  • Professor Anant Madabhushi, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, USA
  • Professor Pasi Jänne, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, US
  • Professor Nuria Lopez Bigas, Institute for Research in Biomedicine, Barcelona, Spain
  • Group leader Jan Korbel, European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) Heidelberg, Germany

Institute of Biotechnology SAB for the term 1 January 2023 – 31 December 2026:


  • Professor Poul Nissen, Aarhus University, Denmark


  • Professor Anne Spang, University of Basel, Switzerland
  • Professor Marja Jäättelä, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Professor Olivier Pourquie, Harvard University, US
  • Professor Miltos Tsiantis, Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Germany
  • Associate Professor Pedro Beltrao, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
  • Professor Karla Neugebauer, Yale School of Medicine, US
  • Professor Jan Skotheim, Stanford University, US

Neuroscience Center (NC) SAB for the term 1 January 2023 – 31 December 2026:


  • Director, Professor Mikael Simons, Institute of Neuronal Cell Biology, Technical University of Munich, Germany (chair)


  • Senior Professor Anders Björklund, Lund University, Sweden
  • Head of Department, Professor Sandra Ceccatelli, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
  • CNRS senior researcher, Catherine Tallon-Baudry, Laboratoire de Neurosciences Cognitives, PSL Research University, INSERM, France
  • Professor Rita Horvath, Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Cambridge, UK
  • Professor Sabine Kastner, Princeton Neuroscience Institute, Princeton University, US