HiLIFE Helsinki Institute of Life Science was established in 2017 to bridge over campuses and build even more vibrant University of Helsinki life science community. Today HiLIFE is one of the leading life science research institutes in the Nordics. It supports outstanding research and generation of innovations across the University’s campuses to create an attractive international environment where today’s grand challenges in health and environment are solved together.

HiLIFE contains the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland FIMM, Institute of Biotechnology (BI) and Neuroscience Center (NC) as units. It is also the only unit at the University of Helsinki that takes responsibility of cross-campus needs and the development in the Life Science area. This dual role makes HiLIFE a unique entity in the University.

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. The HiLIFE Innovation and Corporate Collaboration program has initiated e.g. HiPOC proof of concept grants and y Science event at SLUSH. 

Outstanding researchers

We believe that breakthroughs emerge by giving talented researchers sufficient resources and freedom to pursue their ambitions and expertise towards higher goals. 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 employs more than 650 diverse scientists and support staff of which about 50% has international background. HiLIFE’s budget exceeds 60 M€ of which about 65% is external competed research funding. HiLIFE hosts about 80 principal investigators including multiple ERC grantees and other top scientists. Measured by CNCI (Category Normalized Citation Impact 2017-2020) HiLIFE is the top research unit at the University. It is also forerunner in the open publishing at the University.

HiLIFE Director Olli Silvennoinen has overall responsibility of operations according to the University Regulations and HiLIFE Rules of Procedure and prepares matters for the Board.  Olli's research focuses on molecular mechanisms of cytokine signalling with a particular interest in mechanisms underlying normal and pathogenic JAK kinase activation.


Olli Juhani
Helsinki Institute of Life Science
Field of science Biochemistry, cell and molecular biology

HiLIFE Board  1.8.2020-31.7.2024

Members (deputies):
Chair, Vice-rector Paula Eerola (Vice-rector Tom Böhling)
Professor Johanna Björkroth, Vice chair (Professor Vincenzo Cerullo)
Research director Markku Varjosalo (Research expert Miia Duffa)
Academy professor Elina Ikonen (Academy professor Lauri Aaltonen)
MSc Tuomas Pylkkö (MSc Lisa Gawriyski); term 8/2020 - 7/2022
Professor Jaakko Kangasjärvi (Associate professor Mari Pihlatie)
Professor Anne Pitkäranta, Director of research HUS (Markku Mäkijärvi, Chief Medical Officer HUS)
Research professor Merja Penttilä, VTT (Research professor Hannu Fritze, LUKE)
Dean Risto Renkonen (Professor Per-Henrik Groop)

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 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 in 2017: (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 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 Meetings:

  • November 3, 2017 
  • May 28-30, 2018
  • June 2-5, 2019
  • June 8-9, 2020 (remote meeting)
  • September 2021

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. 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 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.