Marja Makarow

Marja Makarow awarded Chevalier dans l’ordre de la Légion d’honneur#

Professor Marja Makarow, a member of the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology section of Academia Europaea, received from president Macron the highest French distinction, Chevalier dans l’ordre de la Légion d’honneur, for her accomplishments in science and science policy at the European level.

Academia Europaea congratulates Prof. Makarow to this oustanding distinction! #

Speech by the his Excellency Ambassador Serge Tomasi delivered in the ceremony:#

Madame le Professeur Marja Makarow,
Mesdames et Messieurs,

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear friends,

It is a great honor, but also a real pleasure, to welcome you, Professor Makarow, your family and your friends, at the residence of France. As you know, we are gathered to honor a leading Finnish personality and a great friend of France.

Let me first remind you, in a few words, what the Legion of Honor is. This honorary distinction was created in 1802 by Napoleon and is part of the French heritage. It is the highest French distinction, and it is also a contemporary and living institution that embodies our values. It has a universal vocation: to reward the highest military and civilian merits. From the beginning, the Légion d'Honneur was opened to some famous foreign personalities, one of the most legendary being Carl Gustav Mannerheim, future Marshal and President of Finland. I could also quote former Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen, who is also President of the Finnish Legion of Honor Association. This decoration intends to mark the recognition of France for the commitment of foreign personalities in the development of bilateral relations with France, and the promotion of our shared values.

In this year 2018, which marks the Centenary of diplomatic relations between France and Finland, we wanted you to be part of these famous foreign personalities, and I am very pleased about that.

Dear Marja Makarow, Professor, it would be difficult to talk in a comprehensive manner, about your many qualities and about the excellence of your career.

Therefore, I will only sketch out the main facts.

Mrs. Marja Makarow, you are a professor of Applied Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, currently Director of the Biocenter of Finland, a joint creation of the 6 Finnish universities active in the field of health. You have become a key figure in Finnish science and research policy.

You started out as a researcher and research director in your field, especially at the University of Helsinki but also at Kuopio University. You are particularly interested in cell biology and intracellular transport mechanisms of proteins. You have published extensively in Finland and abroad, registered several patents, supervised 19 doctoral dissertations and defended more than 60 as director of the doctoral school at the University of Helsinki.

From 2008 to 2011, you were Executive Director of the European Science Foundation based in Strasbourg, where you worked to improve links between national research agencies in Europe. As an expert and member of numerous scientific councils, you have been a member and the vice-president of the European Research Area Board. You were also President of the European Conference on Molecular Biology from 2004 to 2007.

Mrs. Makarow, you’ve always been committed to both basic research and technology transfer and to the public-private link. In 2007, you established the Institute for Molecular Medicine in Finland. From 2013, you became Vice President of the Academy of Finland. As such, you chair the Finnish Research Infrastructure Committee for the period 2014-2020. As president of the Technological Academy of Finland, you were also on the jury of the Millennium Technology Prize, the most important in the world of technology, awarded every two years and endowed with a million euros.

Being at the same time Francophone, German-speaking and English3 speaking, you are convinced of the importance for research of fostering contacts between European researchers. This is particularly true from 2003, when you took managerial positions.

Today, at the head of the Biocenter, you continue in the same direction. In particular, you have maintained excellent contacts with the French Universities Pierre-et-Marie-Curie, Paris-Sud and Strasbourg, when you represented the University of Helsinki in the League of European Research Universities, from 2003 to 2007, and during your stay in Strasbourg.

Appointed to the Palmes Académiques in 2002 for your involvement in the Franco-Finnish association for scientific research, Professor Makarow, you have long been a regular and appreciated partner of the French Institute of Finland and of this Embassy. For your vital role in promoting scientific research and Franco-Finnish relations in this field, you deserve an appointment in the National Order of the Legion of Honor.

That is why, in testimony of your commitment to promote excellence in Sciences as well as the Finish-French relations, the President of the French Republic decided, by decree of April 6, 2018, to make you a Knight in the order of the Legion of Honor.

Madame Marja Makarow,

Au nom du Président de la République, et en vertu des pouvoirs qui nous sont conférés, nous vous faisons Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur.


Helsinki, 16 October 2018

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