Timo Lappalainen appointed a Professor of Practice of pharmaceutical industry at the InFLAMES Flagship

The former CEO of Orion Timo Lappalainen has been appointed a Professor of Practice at the InFLAMES Flagship. He is the third Professor of Practice at the joint Flagship of the University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University. The specific field of expertise of Lappalainen is the pharmaceutical industry.

Timo Lappalainen holds a degree of Master of Science in Technology and has history of over 30 years working in senior management positions in the pharmaceutical sector and on the executive boards of several companies. For the last 15 years (2008-2022) he was the CEO of Orion.

In addition to his CEO position, Lappalainen has held a number of positions of trust, such as a member of the boards of the Chemical Industry Federation of Finland and the ETLA Economic Research, as well as a member of the Electoral Committee, Board and Executive Committee of Finnish Industries EK.

Lappalainen is currently the Chairman of the Board of the Finnish Fair Corporation and a member of the Board of Directors of Kemira. He also continues being active in the Finnish Foundation for Cardiovascular Research, where he is a member of the Board and Executive Committee.

Timo Lappalainen is the third Professor of Practice of the InFLAMES Flagship, along with Timo Veromaa and Juha Laine. Veromaa’s field of expertise is drug development and Laine’s health economics. The Professor of Practice term of Lappalainen runs until 2028.

Expertise must be imparted to others

Timo Lappalainen’s started his term as InFLAMES Professor of Practice at the University of Turku Medical Faculty at the beginning of 2024.

– It’s great to be able to work with graduate students, researchers and university staff. I find the university environment intellectually stimulating and believe that my 30 years of experience of the life sciences businesses and industry can offer perspectives that are of interest to the academia,” says Lappalainen.

The cooperation between the Academy and the pharmaceutical industry has not always been seen in a positive light. Timo Lappalainen believes that the burden of this history has been a strain for industry, academia and civil sectors alike. But now the times have changed.

– I believe in the existence of a trinity within life sciences, where expertise keeps moving between academia, industry and government institutions. Novel ideas are born as experts end up working in different roles and share their knowledge.

Compared to Finland, in other parts of the world there are more life science companies and the field in general produces more medical inventions and economic activity on societal level. Timo Lappainen believes one of the reasons to be the experts in both academia and pharmaceutical or diagnostics companies.

For Timo Lappalainen, the investigative freedom of a researcher is self-evident. However, he wishes to bring to mind the long and rocky journey to commercialisation for a promising drug after its discovery. The continuation of the journey depends on at least two factors: the reproducibility of the experiments and the industrial quick ratio analysis based on the drug candidate data. In fact, the reproducibility is one of the topics Lappalainen hopes to activate discussion on.

The unique InFLAMES

Timo Lappalainen finds the InFLAMES Flagship unique. He praises its network structure that brings together different types of expertise. InFLAMES provides an environment for cutting-edge research and helps support the bread and butter of everything, the basic research.

– In addition to the efficient structure, in my eyes the flagship already has world-class researchers and sufficient long-term funding. The research community is large enough that it is starting to feed itself and attract more and more talent both near and far.

Lappalainen agrees to InFLAMES’ ambition to become an international cluster of immunological expertise. If and when the aim is to develop breakthrough drugs and diagnostic methods based on immunological research, the bigger picture must always consider the global market.

– We compete with the United States in pharmaceutical innovation and with Asia in productivity,” Lappalainen sums up.