InFLAMES Flagship Receives Four More Experts as Visiting Professors

The InFLAMES Flagship of the University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University has invited four recognised experts in their fields as visiting professors. The expertise in the Flagship will be strengthened by Professor Petter Brodin, Professor Sarah Coupland, Dr Simon Goodman, and Professor Reijo Salonen. Their terms will last until the end of 2024.

The InFLAMES (Innovation Ecosystem Based on the Immune System) Flagship is one of the ten extensive research projects funded by the Academy of Finland. The goals of the InFLAMES Flagship are to identify new targets for drug development and to engage in drug development together with biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. The Flagship also seeks breakthroughs in diagnostics and personalised medicine.  

Reaching these goals requires strong international networking, and the visiting professors have an important role in this.

– The visiting professors inspire new ways of thinking and encourage our researchers to seek new research avenues. Furthermore, they significantly promote awareness of the InFLAMES Flagship, international collaboration, and mutual researcher mobility, says Academician of Science and Director of the Flagship Sirpa Jalkanen.

Petter Brodin Studies the Development of Immune System in Early Life

Professor Petter Brodin is a professor in Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm and the head of the Mass cytometry facility at the SciLifeLab laboratory. He is a visiting professor at Linköping University, specialising in children’s immunology.

Professor Brodin finished his doctoral dissertation and was awarded his PhD  in 2011. After his term as a postdoctoral research fellow at Stanford Medical School, he has actively studied the human immune system with Mass cytometry in addition to obtaining his clinical qualifications.

Brodin has many positions of trust and in recent years, he has e.g. worked as an external advisor to the Swedish Olympic Committee and Sweden’s COVID-19 vaccine coordinator Richard Bergström. In his re-search, Petter Brodin applies multiomics approach to understand human immune systems.  

Professor Riitta Lahesmaa has high expectations for the co-operation with Brodin.

– Petter significantly strengthens our immunoprofiling unit and tightens our collaboration with his unit at Karolinska Institutet. His research focuses on the development of immune system in early life, and its importance for health and disease is very topical and highly synergistic for InFLAMES research. 

Sarah Coupland Specialises in Eye Cancers, and in molecular- and digital pathology

Professor Sarah Coupland is a senior Consultant histopathologist working at the University of Liverpool. Coupland leads the Liverpool Ocular Oncology Research Group (, comprising around 30 clinicians, scientists, and students. Established in 2005, the group has the objective of seeking better understanding of the pathogenesis of eye cancers to develop more effective treatments and improve patient outcome. Coupland’s research interests also include skin cancers and haematological neoplasms.

As the George Holt Chair of Pathology at the University of Liverpool, Professor Coupland is academic Pathology lead of the University. She was Director of the North West Cancer Research Centre and Molecular pathology Lead of the North West Genomic Laboratory Hub. She also has expertise in Digital Pathology. Professor Coupland is the current Vice President (Communications) of the Royal College of Pathologists.

In the InFLAMES Flagship, Coupland works together with the researchers of the Academy of Finland project lead by Academy Researcher Carlos Rogério de Figueiredo. Their collaborative research is related to immunotherapy of metastatic melanomas. De Figueiredo indicates that Professor Coupland has already brought important outlooks to the examination of research results. 

– Sarah can improve our international collaboration networks and support us in histopathology studies related to immunology of cancer. In addition Sarah can share her experience in digital pathology, an area where her group is a reference in UK, says Docent Carlos Rogério de Figuereido.

Simon Goodman Has an Extensive and Impressive Career in Drug Development 

Dr Simon Goodman is a consultant for the international non-profit organization the Antibody Society, specialising in validation of antibodies. He retired from his position as Principal Scientist at Merck KGaA a few years ago. Goodman worked with Merck from 1993 to 2017, most recently leading an immunohistology group in Oncology preclinical pharmaceutical research. During this time, he was developing and validating antibodies for clinical biomarker analysis.

Prior to that, he was principal scientist of a drug development team developing treatment of glioblastomas. This followed 15 years as head of a cell-biology laboratory in Merck, where he was involved in drug discovery.  

– Simon Goodman has decades of experience in drug development within the pharmaceutical industry. He is experienced in the process of drug discovery, taking compound to Phase 3 trials, which is valuable experience to be shared with InFLAMES, says Professor Johanna Ivaska. 

Reijo Salonen’s Expertise in Neuroimmunology is Central to the InFLAMES Research

Professor Reijo Salonen graduated from the University of Turku as Licentiate in Medicine in 1983, Doctor of Medicine in 1983, and Specialist in Neurology in 1990. The University of Turku has granted him the title of Docent of Neuroimmunology in 1989 and the title of Professor in 2009.

Since 2018, Salonen has worked as a partner in the consulting service company Reillen Group LLC in Florida. He is a member of the board in two pharmaceutical companies, Pharmasum AS and DelSiTech. He has experience of working in challenging management positions in the pharmaceutical industry. Moreover, Salonen has had multiple positions in the boards of Finnish and international pharmaceutical research and industry organisations over the last 15 years. Salonen was elected as the Chief Technology Officer of the Year in 2017.

– Professor Reijo Salonen is an expert with a long international career originally from the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Turku. His background as neuroimmunologist and experience in successful management in the drug development industry both in the United States and in Finland is of essential importance for the InFLAMES Flagship, which has the objective of developing the discoveries made at the University into products for drug development and diagnostics companies and, eventually, for treatment of patients, says Jalkanen.

The InFLAMES Flagship has now granted altogether eight positions of visiting professors. The visiting pro-fessors of the InFLAMES Flagship come to Turku each year according to a separately arranged schedule. Their key responsibilities include student mentoring and lectures in the InFLAMES doctoral programme.

InFLAMES Flagship is a joint initiative of University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University. The goal of the Flagship is to integrate the immunological and immunology-related research activities to develop and exploit new diagnostic and therapeutic tools for personalised medicine.