Cover photo for Jouko  Ilkka Tapani  Isojarvi's Obituary
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1957 Jouko 2022

Jouko Ilkka Tapani Isojarvi

April 7, 1957 — June 27, 2022

Durham – Dr. Jouko Ilkka Tapani Isojarvi, age 65, died in Chapel Hill on June 27th, 2022, after a fierce battle with a serious illness. He was born on April 7th, 1957, in Tervola, Finland, to the late Erkki Isojarvi and Maija-Liisa Isojarvi.

Jouko had an impressive career in medicine, his main passion being epilepsy research and drug development. He received his MD in 1982 and PhD in 1989 from University of Oulu, Finland. Jouko stayed in academia until 2002, as the Assistant Professor in Neurology and Head of the Oulu Epilepsy Research Group at the University of Oulu. During this time, he built a strong academic and clinical background in Neurology; authoring and co-authoring more than 100 publications in peer reviewed journals.

After deciding to take on his next challenge in the pharmaceutical industry in 2002, Jouko spent close to two decades in multiple senior director roles, before becoming the Chief Medical Officer and one of the founders of Engage Therapeutics in 2017. He experienced pride and accomplishment from the innovative drug development and research work he conducted at Engage and continued to work closely with the project as a consultant after the company was acquired by another pharmaceutical company in 2020.

To his family Jouko will always be remembered as a loving and caring husband, father, and grandfather. It was important for him to share the experiences he enjoyed the most with his family. Traveling, going to concerts, visiting art museums, attending sports events, and spending time together over nice dinners—whether it was at one of his favorite restaurants, or a feast he had prepared for us—are all great examples of the wonderful moments we got to enjoy together.

Throughout his life, Jouko loved spending time in the outdoors and cherished the solitude it offered him. Fishing, hiking, canoeing, and cross-country skiing were things he enjoyed on his free time. He relaxed by spending time at our second home in Kuusamo, Finland, and at his family’s summer cottage in Kunnarrusjarvi, Finland, which they had owned and visited frequently since the 1960s. Another thing near and dear to him throughout the years was music. Over the years he not only enjoyed listening to music and attending dozens of concerts by his favorite artists and orchestras, but he also was skilled in playing the guitar, piano, and cello. He took great pride in the beautiful instrument collection he had gathered.

Jouko is survived by his loving wife of 43 years, Irma Isojarvi; his son, Jussi Isojarvi and his wife Anni, their daughters Olivia and Pihla; his daughter, Annastiina Isojarvi, and her son Aleksi; his brothers Johannes Isojarvi, Jaakko Isojarvi, Joonatan Isojarvi, and Jyrki Isojarvi. Jouko was preceded in death by his sister, Leena.

Visitation will be held on Thursday, July 14, 2022, from 5:00pm - 7:00pm at Hall Wynne Funeral Home in Durham, NC. A private service will be held the following day.

The Isojarvi family is under the care of Hall-Wynne Funeral Service. Online condolences: – select obituaries.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Jouko Ilkka Tapani Isojarvi, please visit our flower store.


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