Professor Vaara, M.D., Ph.D. is the Head and Chief Physician of the Division of Clinical Microbiology, Helsinki University Hospital Laboratory. The clinical microbiology lab is the biggest in the Nordic countries and a real-life vantage point to witness the alarming spread of multi-drug resistant pathogens worldwide. Prior to starting in this position in 1997, he served for twenty-two years in various roles of increasing responsibility (including Acting Professor) at the Department of Bacteriology, National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, and at the Department of Bacteriology and Immunology, Helsinki University Medical School. During 1997-2000, he also held a joint appointment as Professor of Bacteriology at both institutions. Martti is the co-founder, CEO and CSO of Northern Antibiotics Ltd., established in 2003 and developing polymyxin derivatives that are better-tolerated than those now in clinical use.
Martti´s main research topics include molecular bacteriology, antibacterial agents, clinical microbiology in general, and the outer membrane (OM) of Gram-negative bacteria in particular. He has published 150+ papers in peer-reviewed international journals as well as edited several Finnish textbooks. Martti’s major scientific achievements include the elucidation of the molecular mechanism of polymyxin resistance in Gram-negative bacteria and development of PMBN (polymyxin B nonapeptide), now the gold standard for compounds that disrupt the permeability barrier of the OM and sensitize Gram-negative bacteria to a wide variety of antibiotics. His review “Agents that Increase the Permeability of the Outer Membrane” has been cited 850+ times.
Martti obtained his M.D. degree in 1978 and his Ph.D. degree in 1981 from the University of Helsinki Medical School. In 1985-1986 he was a visiting associate professor at the Department of Bacteriology at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2006 Martti was awarded by the President of Finland the title of Professor for life-long achievements.