Areas of expertise
Academician Sirpa Jalkanen is Academy Professor and Professorof Immunology at the Medical Faculty, University of Turku. After her postdoctoral period at Stanford University she has worked in different researcher positions at the University of Turku, Finnish National Institute of Health and Welfare as well as the Academy of Finland. Recently, she has also worked first as a vice chair and then as a chair of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters. She is the director of the MediCity Research Laboratory (the Research Unit of the Medical Faculty, University of Turku).
The main interest of Sirpa Jalkanen’s research group has been in the mechanisms mediating the cell trafficking in harmful inflammations and cancer. She has published more than 300 peer-reviewed papers and has more than 10 patents. She is an EMBO member and a member of Academia Europae and has received several awards and honours such as Eli Lilly award, Maud Kuistila Prize, Anders Jahre Prize, Äyräpää Prize, Datta Medal, and 2ndEuropean Women Innovator Prize and the Finnish Pharma Industry Prize.
She has also several positions of trust. She is a member of the board in three big Finnish Foundations financing research In addition she is a member of the board of Orion, the biggest pharmaceutical company in Finland and has been a co-founder of two biotech companies.
I have been teaching immunology for medical students since 1981. However, my main contribution is to train PhD students and postdoctoral fellows.
The overall goal of the research of the Jalkanen group is to elucidate the mechanisms regulating the traffic of leukocytes and cancer cells in the body. The focus is both on blood and lymphatic vasculature. Harmful leukocyte migration into the joints in rheumatoid arthritis and into the pancreas in diabetes are examples of diseases where leukocytes cause extensive destruction. These inflammatory diseases can be cured by inhibiting leukocyte trafficking. Also metastasising malignant cells often use the same mechanisms as leukocytes when extravasating from blood to different organs or migrating via the lymphatics into distant sites. The results obtained can be utilized when new types of drugs are developed to treat harmful inflammations and cancer. The group utilises the most modern imaging techniques, animal models, molecular and cell biology methods including single cell sequencing and mass cytometry and is intimately collaborating with clinicians.