People

A public forum. The Finnish Institute of Bioethics collaborates with people and organizations in bioethics and biolaw both nationally and internationally. In tune with its mission, the Finnish Institute of Bioethics aspires to create an open public forum for all parties interested and involved in bioethical issues. If You are interested in collaborating with the Finnish Institute of Bioethics, we warmly encourage you to get in touch with us using the feedback form.

The working team of the Finnish Institute of Bioethics:

Ph.D., researcher Heikki Saxén (chairman of the board) works as a bioethics researcher at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Technology at Tampere University. During his career, he has established close collaborative ties within international academia in bioethics, especially in the United States. During the academic year 2014–2015 he was a visiting Fulbright Scholar at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, where his affiliation was extended for the academic year 2015–2016. He has also collaborated with the Center for Bioethics at Harvard Medical School. In addition to these, Heikki has formed close ties with people in other bioethics institutions in the country, such as the Hastings Center, where he has visited a few times. Heikki has lectured widely in bioethics at Tampere University and the University of Helsinki. In 2020, a guild of bioengineering students, Bioner, at Tampere University chose him as the lecturer of the year. In 2016, he wrote, together with Salla Saxén, a pamphlet on how bioethics could transform health care in Finland. In the same year, he was awarded a UNESCO Prize for advancing bioethics in Finland. In 2019, the Pirkanmaa Hospital District awarded Heikki, together with Salla Saxén, a yearly prize for advancing ethics in health care.

MSSc, M.Sc. Mikko Värttö (vice chairman of the board) is currently a PhD student at the Faculty of Management of the University of Tampere. His research on deliberative methods is funded by the Finnish Work Environment Fund and Ella and Georg Ehrnrooth’s Fund. For his research, Mikko has organized and evaluated various deliberative forums around Finland. His main interest is on organizations that seek new ways for engaging different stakeholders in decision-making. At the Finnish Institute of Bioethics, Mikko wishes to advance citizens’ deliberation on bioethical questions. He is also a member of board at the Institute for Deliberative Democracy.

DSocSci, researcher Salla Saxén (member of the board) defended her dissertation on the diversity of ethics in healthcare professions at the University of Eastern Finland in 2021. She was also the first Finnish scholar to participate in the distinguished Harvard Medical School Bioethics Fellowship, in which she took part in the academic year 2014–2015. She has a brief counseling practice and is currently studying to be a cognitive behavioral psychoterapist. In 2016, she wrote, together with Heikki Saxén, a pamphlet on how bioethics could transform health care in Finland. In 2019, the Pirkanmaa Hospital District awarded Salla, together with Heikki Saxén, a yearly prize for advancing ethics in health care.

MSoc.Sc in Sociology, MSc in Med. Anthropology, Doctoral Candidate Aleksi Hupli is preparing his PhD dissertation at the University of Tampere School of Social Sciences and Humanities. His dissertation is focused on the policies and practices around human enhancement drug use, especially the use of ADHD medication for both pharmacological therapy and enhancement among ADHD adults and university students in Finland, the Netherlands and USA. He has been granted a personal academic scholarship by the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters under the Eino Jutikkala Fund. Aleksi has worked as a junior researcher in the European Research Council (ERC) funded project ChemicalYouth, led by Professor Anita Hardon. Aleksi was also a visiting scholar at the New York University (NYU) anthropology department as part of his PhD research in the spring of 2016. Aleksi has a broad experience in presenting at academic conferences both in Finland and abroad about the use of smart drugs and other psychoactive substances as well as lecturing experience about digital methods and research ethics. In addition, Aleksi is the Vice-President of the Amsterdam Society for Medical Social Scientists (theasmss.com), a member of the Human Enhancement Drug research network and a board member of the Finnish Association for Humane Drug Policy (hppry.fi).

B.Eng. and M.Sc. student Joel Janhonen is currently completing a one-year master’s program in bioethics at King’s College London. As a biochemical engineer, he has among other things worked in biomaterial research, in mammalian cell cleanroom cultivation, in a project studying photon and photocatalytic disinfection, and for about a year and a half in the bioanalytical laboratory of Forendo Pharma Ltd; a company conducting pharmaceutical drug research in Turku. His main bioethical interests include genetic data, endocrinology, molecular genetic pathology, and embryo / foetal diagnostics.

M.Sc., Doctoral Candidate Taina Ketola is currently working toward transforming the public sector in Finland through different roles and initiatives. She is also preparing a doctoral dissertation at the University of Tampere. As a researcher, Taina started with the issues of municipal law, from which she moved to conduct research on service systems, individuals and organizations. She has worked as a municipal administrator, teacher, chief consultant, and development manager. For the past three years, she has worked as the implementer of the 6Aika cities strategy, developing open innovation platforms in cities. At the Finnish Institute of Bioethics, she wants to be part of an emerging community and promote ethical issues in organizations and in society.

Associate Professor of Art and Design Kaisu Koski works at Lab4Living at Sheffield Hallam University. She is a cross-disciplinary artist and humanities scholar with a background in performance and screen-based media. She also works with biological materials such as soil and plants. Kaisu collaborates with scientists, clinicians, and engineers, focusing on empathy, simulation, and human-nonhuman interactions. She has conducted research fellowships in various medical schools and developed films for medical curricula on topics such as vaccine-hesitancy and breaking bad news. Kaisu’s work has been exhibited and performed in multiple gallery shows and theaters, and received awards in the film festival circuit. The venues include Künstlerhaus Mousonturm in Frankfurt, Hasselt Triennial, Lawndale Art Center in Houston, Estonian Museum of Applied Arts, Czong Institute for Contemporary Art in Korea, Helsinki International Film Festival, and Arti et Amicitiae in Amsterdam. She has also received several research grants including organizations such as the Academy of Finland and the Portuguese National Science Foundation.

Ph.D., researcher Jari Pirhonen is working in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Gerontology Research Center of the University of Tampere. His current research topic is the constituents of a good life in long-term care for older people. In his research, Jari combines philosophy with empirical fieldwork in assisted living surroundings. He applies philosophical theories, such as the Capabilities Approach and Philosophy of Recognition to care, observing whether assisted living residents are able to maintain identity and control over their lives while living in facilities. He is also a researcher in the ROSE project (Robots and the future of welfare services), funded by the Academy of Finland. The purpose of ROSE is to study both the societal and individual level influences of the use of interactional robots in welfare services, particularly in elderly care. Pirhonen studies the influence robots have on human dignity and justice regarding delivery of care.

Ph.D. Henrik Rydenfelt is docent of practical philosophy and media and communication studies at the University of Helsinki. His main research interests include the nature of ethical inquiry and debate, ethical pluralism, the ethics of media, communications and social media, as well as their implications for democracy and education. Henrik is an editor or a member of the editorial board in many central academic publications in the field of philosophical pragmatism, as well as a founding member of a Nordic and European cooperation network of the field. He is also the editor of the popular scientific website, Etiikka.fi.

MD, Ph.D. Tanja Saarela is a clinical geneticist who works at the Kuopio University Hospital. Her subjects of interest are ethical themes concerning clinical genetics, patient counseling, fetal medicine, preimplantation genetic testing, and also the ethics of medicine and genetics/genomics research. She is a member of the clinical bioethics advisory board of the University of Tampere.

BA Antti Sorri has focused on the history and philosophy of science in his studies. He is a seasoned organizer of many kinds of events and an experienced facilitator of philosophical dialogue. In 2010, Antti founded “Puistofilosofia,” an annual philosophy festival that is held every summer in Ikaalinen, Finland. The purpose of the event is to facilitate philosophical discussion and make it available and easily accessible to all. Especially ethical questions have occupied a central place in the event. At the institute Antti aims at fostering similar ends.

MHS, Specialist (City of Espoo) Tuija Tuormaa graduated from the University of Eastern Finland majoring in public health. Her career path has been in project management at various social and healthcare NGO’s and in research at the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Finland. Professionally she is interested in sexual and reproductive health, mental health, health sociology, and medicalization. Also, she has special interest in evidence based medicine and Big Pharma. She has wondered numerous times why the UK and the United States have embraced bio- and medical ethics and in these countries they have been mainstream for decades. In Finland, social and healthcare-related education hardly addresses bio- and medical ethics, this being the case at universities as well. She believes that bioethical questions cross the whole society and thus we all should have the right to take part, and have a proper platform, in the debates and discussion regarding bioethics.

Ph.D. Heikki Turunen works as a scientist in the United States at a company developing clinical gene therapies. He’s specialized in the potential of genetic engineering in both research and medicine, especially in the use of viral vectors in treatment of hereditary blinding disorders. He’s knowledgeable on technical details of current advances in methods in biomedicine. In bioethics he’s interested in the potential of molecular genetics, and how new technologies can bring hope to patients suffering from incurable disease.