Reflections by Raili's family
Created by tkerppola on 06/21/2013
Raili Emilia Kerppola was born to Eeva-Liisa and Samuli Kulmala on July 25, 1962 in the village of Nuijamaa, which straddles the eastern border of Finland. She spent her youth working on the family dairy farm in the archipelago off the southwestern coast of Finland, where she learned the virtues of hard work and perseverance. In her free time (and even when she was supposed to be doing chores), Raili was found reading every book available in her small farming community and writing many imaginative stories about her many cats and other family pets. Raili was a shy introverted child, but throughout her life, she cultivated close friendships with like-minded passionate and energetic people. She loved spending time with her friends, laughing and telling stories.
Raili’s innate curiosity drove her towards new adventures and experiences. At age 16, Raili traveled to Germany for a summer study program for high school students sponsored by the German ministry of education. There, she met her future husband, Tom William Klaus Kerppola, with whom she shared a passion for hiking, singing, and lifelong learning. Three years later, Raili and Tom embarked on a shared adventure to the United States, where their studies were sponsored by Washington State University in Pullman, Washington. Raili’s education encompassed a vast array of subjects, of which her degrees B.S. in Biochemistry & Biophysics, B.S. in Animal Sciences (Washington State University), Ph. D. in Biochemistry (University of California, Berkeley) and M.B.A (Columbia University) were but a pale reflection.
Raili dedicated her work life to different facets of finding treatments for diseases. She was unique in being able to effortlessly traverse the worlds of basic and clinical biomedical research, translational drug development, cultivation of intellectual property, global drug delivery strategies and the challenges faced by all organizations participating in the effort from universities and large multinational pharmaceutical firms to venture startup firms. Raili was fearless in seeking out new challenges throughout her career and held formal positions of Engagement Manager with McKinsey & Company, Director of Technology Acquisitions and Licensing with Parke-Davis Pharmaceutical Research, Managing Director of the Michigan Life Sciences Corridor, Vice President of Global Prescription Pharmaceuticals with Bausch&Lomb, Senior Director of Pharmaceutical Strategy and Business Development with Express Scripts, Co-founder and CEO of ONL Therapeutics, Co-founder and COO of Atterocor.
Raili was diagnosed with Stage IV Inoperable Metastatic Adrenal Cancer in February 2011. She devoted her irrepressible energies to the development of treatments for this disease, which had few effective treatments. Her efforts brought a completely new drug to the stage where the first patients are being enrolled in clinical trials at this very moment.
Raili led an equally intense life outside work. An avid triathlete, Raili won top rank in her age group in several competitions each year. She enjoyed many outdoor activities, including hiking and biking. She loved colors and patterns and became an expert quilter, hand-stitching 50 quilts for family and friends.
Raili was a devoted and loving mother to her two children Marianna Eeva Aulikki Kerppola, born 1985 and Aki Agathon William Kerppola, born 2005. She was their greatest cheerleader and mentor, at soccer games, in the kitchen and at all stages of their education. She found ways to make her children happy, teaching them to approach life with a positive mindset.
Raili led a life full of energy, passion, dedication and perseverance. She inspired and motivated others to pursue their dreams unrelentingly. She will be long remembered through retelling of the stories that she told us and those that we tell about her.
Tom, Marianna and Aki Kerppola