Prof. Mart Saarma served as the director of BI at the University of Helsinki (1990–2008), and is currently Academy Professor and Director of the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Molecular and Integrative Neuroscience Research. He investigates the structure, biology and therapeutic potential neurotrophic factors. Current focus is on the role of neurotrophic factors in development and neurodegenerative diseases. His group has discovered several GDNF family receptors and shown RET receptor tyrosine kinase is the receptor for GDNF. Recently, his group has discovered neurotrophic factor CDNF which protects and repairs dopamine neurons in vivo. He has solved the crystal structure of GDNF in the complex with its receptor GFRa1, and developed small molecular mimetics of GFLs for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and chronic pain. He has received funding from EU FP6 and FP7 programmes, Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and Lundbeck Foundation. He has published over 190 scientific articles and has 24 patents/patent applications.
Prof. Saarma’s role in GLORIA is in development and screening of small molecular GFL mimetics, and characterisation in different cellular and in vivo assays.
University of Helsinki: Mikko Airavaara • Viljami Jokinen • Eija Kalso • Oleg Kambur • Leena Karhinen • Mari Kaunisto • Zhilin Li • Tuomas Lilius • Vânia Moreira • Kert Mätlik • Pekka Rauhala • Maiju Rinne • Mart Saarma • Yulia Sidorova • Ilida Sulemanyova • Li Tian • Jaakko Vartia • Hanna Viisanen-Kuopila • Henri Xhaard • Jari Yli-Kauhaluoma