Irma Thesleff

Group Leader

Irma Thesleff
Professor and Research Director

Institute of Biotechnology
POB 56
University of Helsinki
00014 Helsinki
tel. +358 2941 59401
fax. +358 2941 59366
E-mail: irma.thesleff -at-
Street address:
Institute of Biotechnology
Viikinkaari 9
00710 Helsinki


Irma Thesleff graduated from the Dental School of the University of Helsinki in 1972, received her PhD  in 1975 on studies on the etiology of cleft lip and palate, and was a postdoctoral scientist at National Institute of Dental Research in Bethesda, USA 1978-79. She is a specialist in Orthodontics and was Professor and Chairman of the Department of Pedodontics and Orthodontics at the Institute of Dentistry, University of Helsinki, 1990-1995. Since 1996 she is the Research Director of the Developmental Biology Program at the Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki. This program has gained the status of a Center of Excellence from the University as well as from the Academy of Finland. Her work has been recognized by many national and international awards including the Helsinki City Science Prize, Anders Jahre Prize in Medicine by the Oslo University, the Distinguished Scientist Award and Isaac Shour Memorial Award of IADR, and honorary doctorates in several universities.  She is an invited member of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters and EMBO and an AAAS Fellow.
Her research interest is the mechanisms of embryonic organ development. She is best known for work on tooth development and the model she presented on how sequential and reciprocal signaling between cells and tissues regulates the morphogenesis of teeth. Her group has developed mouse models and a variety of novel organ culture methods for examining the functions of signal molecules, and the research has expanded to include the development of bone and several organs developing as ectodermal appendages.