HiLIFE Webinars, prof. Mart Saarma: From DNA diagnostics to drug development company – Personal journey

HiLIFE webinars invite outstanding, international scientists to present their work to the broad audience of the life science community.

Mart Saarma is the Research Director and Head of the laboratory at the Institute of Biotechnology, HiLIFE, University of Helsinki. He was in 2015-2016 the Vice President of the European Research Council and in 2011-2016 the member of the EMBO Council. He is a member of several academies, EMBO and Academia Europea. Dr. Saarma’s group has characterized several new GDNF family receptors, discovered a new neurotrophic factor CDNF. His research group is investigating the signaling and biological functions of GDNF family ligands and endoplasmic reticulum located CDNF/MANF neurotrophic factor families, both within and outside of the nervous system. He is also interested in the therapeutic potential of these proteins in various diseases, so he is testing their efficacy in animal models of Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, stroke, and diabetes mellitus. One of the highlights of his research has been the initiation and successful completion of phase I-II clinical trials of CDNF protein in Parkinson’s disease patients by the Finnish company Herantis Pharma Plc. He was also a founder of Mobidiag Ltd. company which was recently sold to Hologic company.

In this talk, Prof. Saarma will relate his personal journey of combining cutting-edge biomedical research with entrepreneurial activities, to bring his discoveries to society.