Research groups of the Molecular and Integrative Biosciences Research Programme

Below are the introductions of the research groups that operate partly or wholly at the research program in alphabetical order.


Group leaders: Mar­tin Ro­mantschuk ja Nina Atanasova
Aerovirology and bioaerosols: Formation, dispersion and characterization

Auditory Physiology
Group leader: Ulla Pirvola
Our current research examines the molecular mechanisms that maintain the survival and function of hair cells and neurons of the cochlea.


Cell Shape and Motility
Group leader: Minna Poukkula

Poukkula Lab aims to understand how actin filament turnover is regulated in epithelial cells undergoing morphogenetic movements

Group leader: Helena Kilpinen (HiLIFE)
The Kilpinen research group works on human genomics and studies the cellular basis of brain-related disorders in stem cell models.

Cellular Individuality
Group leader: Juha Saarikangas (HiLIFE)

The Saarikangas lab is interested in the regulation of proteostasis and protein phase transitions during cellular adaptation, differentiation and aging.

Congenital myopathies
Group leaders: Katarina Pelin and Carina Wallgren-Pettersson (Folkhälsan Research Center)

We study the genes and mutations and pathogenetic mechanisms causing congenital myopathies, with the main focus on nemaline myopathy.


Group leader: Juha Partanen

The Partanen group studies the diversity and early differentiation of the neurons in the brainstem, a center for regulation of mood, motivation and movement.

Group leader: Minna Nyström

Our research efforts focus on functional characterization of genetic and epigenetic changes associated with the risk of colorectal cancer.


Endocytic Cytoskeleton Biology
Group leader: Leonardo Almeida-Souza (Institute of Biotechnology, HiLIFE)
The Almeida-Souza lab aims to understand the molecular logic behind the dynamics of the actin cytoskeleton at endocytic sites and how disturbances in this process affect physiology and disease progression. To tackle this question, we use a multidisciplinary approach combining state-of-the-art techniques in cell biology, biochemistry and structural biology.

Extracellular Vesicles
Group leader: Pia Siljander

The EV group studies extracellular vesicles (EVs), submicron membrane vesicles released by most cells (mammalians to prokaryotes), that are present in all body fluids, but also e.g., in oceans.


Functional Lipidomics Group
Group leader: Reijo Käkelä

The group has biomedical and ecophysiological projects. The roles of lipids and fatty acids are studied in human vital functions and pathophysiology as well as in environmental adaptation and feeding ecology of animals. As the most important methods, we use mass spectrometry and chromatography.


Glycoscience Group
Group leader: Jukka Finne

The Glycoscience group headed by professor Jukka Finne is engaged with the biology of carbohydrates, the most abundant biological molecules of nature, involved in the biology of all living organisms. Glycans have received little attention due to lack of efficient tools to probe their complex structures and properties.


Integrins in Immunity
Group leader: Susanna Fagerholm

The Fagerholm group studies leukocyte integrins, adhesion receptors that mediate leukocyte trafficking, in health and disease.

Interneuron Development - Mechanisms of phenotypic convergence
Group leader: Kaia Achim
Achim lab research is focused on the transcriptional regulators of interneuron development in the vertebrate brain.


Laboratory of Neurobiology
Group leader: Kai Kaila
Research at the Laboratory of Neurobiology focuses on the role of ion-regulatory proteins in the control of neuronal excitability at the molecular, single-cell, network and in vivo levels.

Laboratory of Visual Neurophysiology and Psychophysics
Group leader: Kristian Donner

The vision group investigates key factors that influence the performance of animal and human visual systems. The research ranges from basic mechanisms of photoreception and retinal processing studied at the cellular and molecular levels to perception in intact animals and humans as well as low vision in humans.

The Gahmberg group studies leukocyte adhesion and signalling, binding of cytoskeletal proteins to integrins and their regulation by specific phosphorylations of the alfa and beta-chains.The neuronal ICAM-5 ligand is cleaved by NMDA treatment and the released fragment affects leukocyte functions.


Metabolism and Signaling
Group leader: Jaakko Mattila
Mattila lab is focused on cellular signaling and metabolism in the context of stem cells.

Mitochondrial Signalling and Translation Stress Responses
Group leader: Uwe Richter

We are dedicated to improve the life of patients with mitochondrial disease by understanding the mechanisms underlying these maladies that have no treatment option.

Group leader: Minna Poranen
Our research aims at molecular level understanding of viral replication and self-assembly. Using viral parts, we produce molecules for human therapy and crop protection.

Molecular Mechanisms of Bacteria in Infectious Diseases and Health
Group leader: Benita Westerlund-Vikström

The research group studies at the molecular level the secretion, biogenesis and function of bacterial surface proteins and protein appendages involved in infectious processes.

Molecular Principles of Viruses
Group leader: Hanna Oksanen

We are studing archaeal viruses and bacteriophages and interested in virus-host interactions, genomics, virus taxonomy, and virus evolution.

Macromolecular Structure and Function
Group leader: Sarah Butcher

Our work aims to understand the structure, assembly and function of biological macromolecule complexes. We embed unstained, unfixed specimens in vitreous ice to preserve their structures.


Neurobiology of Vision
Group leader: Petri Ala-Laurila

Our Goal is to utilize the neural circuits of the retina to reveal fundamental principles of neural computations at quantal resolution.

Nutrient Sensing
Group leader: Ville Hietakangas

We study how animal body responds to changes in nutrition. Our goal is to understand how specific macronutrients in the diet, such as sugars and amino acids, affect energy metabolism, growth and stem cell function. Uncovering the regulation of these physiological processes will bring new insight into human diseases associated with nutrition and metabolism.


Receptor Biochemistry
Group leader: Kari Keinänen
Research in my laboratory focuses on AMPA receptors, tetrameric ion channels that mediate glutamate signaling in the brain and other tissues.

RNAcious Laboratory
Group leader: Peter Sarin

Nurturing your passion for tRNA biology in the University of Helsinki


Stem Cells and Aging
Group leader: Pekka Katajisto (Institute of Biotechnology, HiLIFE)

The laboratory of Pekka Katajisto studies stem cell intrinsic and extrinsic mechanisms that regulate tissue renewal capacity and how decline of regeneration results in aging.

Structural Biology of Macromolecules and Interactions
Group leader: Juha Huiskonen (Institute of Biotechnology, HiLIFE)

Research in the Laboratory of Structural Biology headed by Juha Huiskonen is aimed at understanding the structure and function of biological macromolecules and their complexes, such as molecular machines and viruses. We strive to decipher basic principles in their assembly and evolution. Detailed mechanistic understanding of structures involved in disease is informing rational design of therapies.

Synaptic Plasticity and Development
Group leader: Sari Lauri (HiLIFE)

The group focuses on studying the molecular mechanisms guiding activity-dependent development of glutamatergic circuitry in the limbic system and in particular, the roles of ionotropic glutamate receptors in this process.