Tõnu Esko

Vice Rector of Development, University of Tartu | Chief Scientist, CDL-Estonia

Role: Scientist

Site: CDL-Estonia

Stream: Digital Society

Tõnu Esko currently serves as a professor of human genomics at the Institute of Genomics, University of Tartu and also as chief business development officer at the Estonian Biobank Innovation Center. As a human geneticist and molecular biologist, he has extensive experience in performing and implementing genetic association studies. Tõnu’s academic research focuses on developing and implementing genomics-guided, personalized healthcare models at the national scale by using comprehensive electronic health records available for special populations as a means of understanding the role of DNA mutations.

Currently, his work at the Estonian Biobank Innovation Center is focused on building public private partnerships both with early-stage startups, SMEs, global corporations and VC funds across the fields of health tech, bio tech and med tech by utilizing the rich Estonian Biobank digital health repositories as well as world-class scientific expertise. His latest endeavor is to set up a holding company for University of Tartu, an entity to park IP and data access based equity from startups, accelerators and even VC funds.

Tõnu conducted his first postdoctoral studies at Harvard Medical School, and later held visiting researcher posts at Boston Children’s Hospital, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. He holds a PhD in molecular human genetics, a master’s (cum laude) in biotechnology and biomedicine, and a bachelor’s (cum laude) in molecular human genetics, all from the department of biotechnology at the University of Tartu, Estonia. He is also a current eLife Science editor and a member of both the Estonian and American Societies of Human Genetics. Tõnu also acts as scientific advisor to the Social Science Genetic Association Consortium and for several biotech, med tech and software companies.

As of August 2023, Tõnu holds the position of the Vice Rector for Development in the University of Tartu.