Professor Jaak Vilo

On February 9 professor Jaak Vilo was submitted as a candidate by the council of the Faculty of Science and Technology.

Rektorikandidaat Jaak Vilo

Jaak Vilo is a Professor of Bioinformatics and Head of the Chair of Data Science at the University of Tartu. He was born in 1966 and completed his secondary education at Tallinn 2nd High School (currently Tallinn Secondary School of Science). In 1991, he graduated from the University of Tartu cum laude with a degree in applied mathematics. His university years included two years of compulsory military service (1984–1986) and a year as an exchange student at the University of Helsinki (1989–1990). After graduation, he took up doctoral studies at the University of Helsinki, where he defended his thesis in 2002. From 1999–2002, Jaak Vilo was a researcher at the European Bioinformatics Institute in the UK. In the summer of 2002, he returned to Estonia and, as the Director of Informatics at AS EGeen, started to develop the Estonian Biobank and the necessary IT infrastructure and data analysis capacity. At the same time, Vilo worked at the Estonian Biocentre and started teaching and supervising at the University of Tartu, where he was soon elected to the positions of senior research fellow and associate professor. 

In 2007, he became a professor of the University of Tartu and in 2012 was elected to be a member of the Estonian Academy of Sciences. His research is related to computer science and its applications, the development of algorithms and data analysis solutions, and open infrastructure and services. The created software has enabled discoveries in biology, such as regarding the regulation and function of genes, the work of receptors, and the analysis of the links between various omics and diseases, as well as contributed to the research of other scientists. He has also compiled glossaries and promoted Estonian language technology for over ten years. Vilo has brought dozens of international grants to Estonia and led more than 70 projects.  

Jaak Vilo has supervised 15 doctoral theses (incl. as a co-supervisor), more than 30 master's theses and several bachelor's theses and other student papers. He led the Institute of Computer Sciences for 12 years (2011–2022), helping to raise the university's scientific level and teaching capacity and contributing to the rapid development of the UT and the whole of Estonia. He has been a member of the UT senate and a member of the evaluation committee of the Estonian Research Council. In addition to his 12 years of experience in Finland and the UK, he has initiated the ELIXIR bioinformatics research infrastructure in Estonia established by international agreements, has been a board member of Informatics Europe, a promoter of Estonia's accession to the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), and is currently an Estonian representative to the EMBL Council. Jaak Vilo has contributed to the development of innovation and entrepreneurship, having been an active creator of Estonian Internet in the 1990s, co-founder of the first Internet companies Teleport and Meediamaa and a developer of their services, and a member of the top management of EGeen. EGeen grew into the IT company Quretec; activities in the field of e-dictionaries became Keelevara. With the support of Enterprise Estonia, Jaak Vilo and Marlon Dumas founded the technology development centre STACC for applied research based on the needs of Estonian IT companies.

Jaak Vilo has been awarded the Estonian Order of the White Star, 3rd class, and the University of Tartu Medal. The Minister for Education and Research has given him letters of appreciation for the research awards for supervised students. In 2013, he was named Person of the Year by the Estonian Association of Information Technology and Telecommunications. In 2020, the Association for Computing Machinery gave him the status of a senior member. 

See also Jaak Vilo' CV in the Estonian Research Information System