Third HiLIFE tenure track call attracts life science talent

New HiLIFE tenure track Assistant and Associate Professors have been appointed.

HiLIFE has recently recruited top-level researchers from over 300 high quality applicants together with the faculties of the University of Helsinki. The recruitment for tenure track Assistant and Associate Professor positions started last summer and the appointments were made by Rector Sari Lindblom on April 3, 2023.  

“The scientific level of all top applicants was record high. Our original aim was to recruit three scientists, but thanks to fruitful co-operation with faculties and HiLIFE operative units, we managed to recruit five highly qualified tenure track Assistant or Associate Professors”, says Jari Koistinaho, Director of HiLIFE.  

“I am especially happy that the recruited talents represent a wide spectrum of life sciences and thus extremely well support our research strategy to promote the interdisciplinarity of our research”, Koistinaho continues.

HiLIFE is eager to welcome the five new tenure track Assistant and Associate Professors to the community!

Anniina Färkkilä, MD PhD, is a gynecologist, an adjunct professor in translational gynecologic oncology, and a group leader at the University of Helsinki since 2019. She earned her MD PhD from the University of Helsinki and completed her postdoctoral fellowship at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School. In 2018 she was awarded the Seth Wichmann award by the Finnish Gynecologic Society, and the Eero Saksela award by the Finnish Cancer Institute in 2022. She was the recipient of an ERC Starting grant in 2022. Currently, her laboratory focuses on understanding the complexity and cell-cell interactions in the tumor microenvironment using highly multiplexed imaging, advanced bioinformatics, and functional models in ovarian cancer. She is particularly interested in uncovering features that delineate the responses to novel combination- and immunotherapies. 

 Anniina works as a specialist for gynecologic oncology at the Helsinki University Hospital (HUS), participating in multiple clinical trials at the HUS Comprehensive cancer center. She coordinates the prospective Oncosys-Ova trial and leads the Ovarian cancer project in the iCAN Digital Precision Medicine Flagship. She is a board member at the Nordic Society of Gynecologic Oncology (NSGO), and the translational working groups of NSGO, European Network of gynecological clinical trials (ENTOG) and Gynecologic Cancer Inter Group (GCIG). Anniina will join HiLIFE in 2023 as a tenure track Assistant Professor.  

Andrea Ganna is currently a FIMM-EMBL group leader at the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM) and a research associate at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School. Andrea's research interests lie at the intersection between epidemiology, genetics, and statistics. He leads a diverse group of researchers including biologists, mathematicians, and medical doctors. He was awarded with an ERC starting grant and the Leena Peltonen Prize for Excellence in Human Genetics. He is co-leading two major international consortia: the COVID-19 host genetic initiative, the largest human genetic study of COVID-19, and the INTERVENE consortium, which aims to integrate AI and human genetics tools for disease prevention and diagnosis across biobanks in Europe. He has initiated the FinRegistry project, which combines comprehensive registry-based health and socio-economic data for machine learning analyses. Andrea's research vision is to integrate genetic data and electronic health records to enhance the early detection of common diseases and improve public health interventions. Andrea will join HiLIFE in 2023 as a tenure track Associate Professor.

Claudius Kratochwil has been leading a research group at the Institute for Biotechnology, University of Helsinki since January 2021. He has a background in developmental genetics, genomics, and evolutionary biology. Claudius earned his Ph.D. from the University of Basel in 2013, where he studied the development of neural circuitry in rodents. Later, he shifted his focus to the molecular and genomic basis of adaptation and speciation during his postdoc at the University of Konstanz, Germany. His current research explores the molecular, developmental, and genomic foundations of phenotypic diversification, with a particular emphasis on the evolution of coloration in tropical cichlid fishes. More generally his Integrative Evolutionary Biology team aims to achieve an integrative understanding of essential biological processes across evolutionary time and various levels of complexity. Claudius will join HiLIFE as a tenure track Associate Professor. 

Jette Lengefeld is a group leader at the Institute of Biotechnology at the University of Helsinki since 2021 and an Assistant Professor to the Karolinska Institutet (Sweden) since 2023. Jette is an Academy of Finland Fellow and a member of the Academy of Finland Center of Excellence MetaStem. Jette received her PhD in 2017 from the ETH Zurich (Switzerland) and performed her postdoctoral studies at the MIT (US), where she discovered cellular enlargement as aging factor of blood (hematopoietic) stem cells. Her independent research team is investigating how size affects hematopoietic stem cell function during aging and in cancer using mice and human patient samples. Jette will join HiLIFE in 2023 as a tenure track Assistant Professor. 

Tommi Vatanen received his PhD in computational biology from Aalto University (Finland) in 2017. As a postdoctoral researcher, he continued research in human gut microbial communities at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard (USA) and at the Liggins Institute, University of Auckland (New Zealand). In 2022, Tommi returned to Finland as an Academy Research Fellow at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki. His group investigates the gut microbial communities and their contributions to health throughout human lifespan. They also develop new computational tools to analyze complex biological data sets. Tommi will join HiLIFE as a tenure track Associate Professor. 

Altogether 305 applications

The third call for HiLIFE assistant and associate professor positions in life sciences began in May 2022 together with the collaborating Faculties. By the deadline August 23, 2022, the call attracted 305 applications. An appointment committee chaired by first by Professor Satu Mustjoki and later by Professor Johanna Mappes was nominated in June 2022.  

In October 2022, the Appointment Committee shortlisted 41 applications to be sent out to 14 external evaluators. Altogether 13 candidates, selected on the basis of the external evaluations, were invited for a site visit and interview, which took place in January.