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New Vice President of Oncology R&D at Orion

Heikki Joensuu

Professor  Heikki Joensuu, M.D., Ph.D., has been appointed Vice President of Therapy area Oncology, R&D in Orion Corporation as of  1 December 2017.

Heikki Joensuu (born 1956) is a Finnish oncologist and cancer researcher. Joensuu joins Orion from the Comprehensive Cancer Center, Helsinki University Hospital, where he worked as the Research Director from 2015 to 2017. Prior to that, he was Research Professor of the Academy of Finland  from 2010 to 2014. At present he is the Director of the Laboratory of Molecular Oncology, Biomedicum, Helsinki, and his research group is a part of a Center of Excellence of the Academy of Finland.

The main topics of his clinical and translational research have been breast cancer and gastrointestinal stromal tumour (GIST). He has received several national and international science awards, including the Matti Äyräpää Prize in 2012 (the most prestigious medical prize in Finland).

“During my career as a doctor and a scientist I have been in a priviledged position to witness the great improvements in the care of cancer patients over the last decades. The results obtained with the novel targeted drugs can sometimes be described as miraculous, and they are frequently a great joy to the patients and their families. My new position at Orion allows me to maintain and deepen my research focus, which is to develop such treatments for cancer patients wherever they live. I hope that my long background in the academia will help in the initiation of new research projects between Orion and the academia. Such collaboration will likely benefit all stakeholders, including the society and, most importantly, the patients,” says Heikki.

The recruitment  of  Professor Joensuu is related  to Orion’s renewed Research and  Development organization (into effect  on 1 October 2017) in which  the prior Research and Development  processes are replaced by parallel Therapy Area Management processes with end-to-end responsibility from new ideas through registration.  Oncology is one of Orion’s main focus areas in the pharmaceutical  Research and Development. Professor Joensuu will continue working at the Comprehensive Cancer Center Helsinki as  a scientific  advisor.

“I am very excited to become a colleague of  Professor Heikki Joensuu and I warmly welcome him to the Orion team. This appointment is an excellent step to further the co-operation of Helsinki University Hospital and Orion and boosts our  relationship. I am also happy that such a top researcher from academic society joins Orion – in past few years several of our  colleagues have left  the company to the top positions in the universities and public sector. This cross fertilization between the public and private sectors is very likely to be beneficial for the scientific and public communities,” says Christer Nordstedt, MD., PhD. Senior Vice President for Orion’s Research and Development.

” I believe that in this collaboration model Heikki Joensuu’s exceptional expertise can maximally benefit the ultimate goal of better cancer treatments for patients. His clinical and translational scientific projects will continue as he will work as a scientific advisor at the CCC.  We have recruited new  senior scientists to continue these projects as well as to start new ones,” says Johanna Mattson, M.D., PhD., Director of the Helsinki University Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC).