In addition to FIMM Group Leaders, FIMM hosts many Senior Scientists and Visiting Professors, creating a diverse and cutting-edge research environment.
Affiliated research groups
Dr. William Hennah was an Academy of Finland Research Fellow and a Group Leader at FIMM 2012-2017. He is a Docent in Human Genetics at the University of Helsinki.
Translational Neuropsychiatric Genetics
Hennah's group uses multiple levels of traits and biological measures to translate our understanding of psychiatric illness. Initially by using next generation sequencing to identify functional variation within genomic regions that have previously been implicated to be involved in psychiatric illness by our previous research. They then aim to use alternative phenotypes of psychological, pharmacological, and biological origin to gain insight into the mechanisms and implications of genetic risk. Using multiple cohorts from Finland they additionally use these alternative phenotypes to aid discovery of novel genetic and biological markers.
Group members at FIMM:
Vishal Sinha, PhD Student
Jonathan Knowles held a Distinguished Professorship in Personalised medicine at FIMM 2010-2014 and his work at FIMM continues as Visiting Professor. Jonathan Knowles is also Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford, Member of the European Molecular Biology Organization, Professor Emeritus at EPFL, Lausanne and a visiting Scholar at Pembroke College, Cambridge.
Jonathan Knowles attended Magdalen College School in Oxford and received a First Class Honours Degree in Molecular Genetics from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK. He received his Ph.D. in Genetics of Mitochondria with Professor G. H. Beale F.R.S. from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland
Professor Knowles was Head of Group Research and Member of the Executive Committee at Roche up to the end of 2009. He was a member of the Genentech Board for the last 12 years and a member of the Chugai Board for seven years. Prof. Knowles was also the chairman of the Corporate Governance Committee of Genentech. Under his leadership, the company developed and implemented a strategy of highly effective therapies based on personalized healthcare.
He was, for 5 years, the Chairman of the Research Directors’ Group of EFPIA (European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industry Associations) and was the first chairman of the Board of the Innovative Medicines Initiative, a unique public-private partnership between 28 Pharmaceutical companies and the European Commission with the participation of over 200 academic institutions in Europe with a budget of more than 5 Billion Euros over ten years. Prior to this, he served as Director of the Glaxo Institute in Geneva for 10 years and as Head of European Research for Glaxo Wellcome.
In 2011, Jonathan Knowles was appointed as a Trustee of Cancer Research UK, one of the world’s leading Cancer Research Organisations and as Board member of A*Star, the leading state research organisation in Singapore. He was Chairman of Immunocore Ltd. and Adaptimmune Ltd, two leading UK Cancer Immunotherapy companies and serves as a non-executive member of a number of Biotech company boards and on the international scientific advisory boards of several Public Organisations.
Hannele Laivuori works as an Associate professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Tampere University Hospital and Faculty of Medicine and Life Sciences, University of Tampere. She also works as a Clinical Coordinator for the FinnGen project at FIMM. Her research interests are common disorders of pregnancy: pre-eclampsia, fetal growth restriction, and gestational diabetes mellitus. The impact of these disorders is not limited to merely obstetric and pediatric domains. They are also associated with increased risk of morbidity in later life of both the mother and the child. We investigate susceptibility genes, molecular mechanisms, risk factors, and implications to later life of these pregnancy disorders.
Mika Kontro, MD, PhD is a consultant in clinical hematology at the Helsinki University Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Center. Mika Kontro defended his Ph.D. thesis, entitled “Individualizing therapy for acute leukemia”, in 2017. He currently works as a K. Albin Johannson Cancer Research Fellow (Finnish Cancer Institute) and as a clinical group leader at FIMM. He has a strong background in running clinical trials and was selected for European Hematology Association Clinical Research Training program (CRTH) in 2017.
His work at FIMM is focused on the detailed characterization of genomic, transcriptomic, and functional aberrations in acute myeloid leukemia, in order to detect biomarkers, guide targeted therapies, and gain a deeper understanding of its pathogenesis. His research group has developed methods, including flow cytometry based ex-vivo drug-sensitivity testing, which have great potential for predicting the response to one of the most promising novel leukemia drugs, venetoclax. Currently he is leading a prospective multi-center AML trial VenEx utilizing these methods for individualized patient care.
Tuuli Lappalainen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Systems Biology at Columbia University and a Junior Investigator and Core Member at the New York Genome Center.
Her research focuses on functional genetic variation in human populations and its contribution to traits and diseases. The work of her research group, physically located at New York Genome Center in lower Manhattan, links computational and population genomics to experimental molecular biology.
Tuuli received her PhD from University of Helsinki, Finland in 2009, followed by postdoctoral research at University of Geneva, Switzerland and Stanford University. She has pioneered the integration of large-scale genome and transcriptome sequencing data to understand how genetic variation affects gene expression, providing insight to cellular mechanisms underlying genetic risk for disease. She has made an important contribution to several international research consortia in human genomics, including the 1000 Genomes Project and the Genotype Tissue Expression (GTEx) Project, and led the RNA-sequencing work of the Geuvadis Consortium.
MD, PhD, Docent, CoECDG Vice-director and research director, FIMM
Departmental chief physician, Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS)
Genetic and metabolic characterization of diabetes – Botnia Study
The research of the Botnia Study Group aims at characterizing the genetic and environmental factors predisposing to diabetes and its complications. In addition to unraveling the complex interacting metabolic pathways, we hope to find tools for individualized prevention and treatment of diabetes. The Botnia Study is led by Prof. Leif Groop and Dr. Tiinamaija Tuomi.
Group members at FIMM:
Om Dwivedi, Post-doctoral researcher
Mikko Lehtovirta, Post-doctoral researcher
Krister Wennerberg received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Uppsala University, Sweden and had his postdoctoral training at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA. Following his postdoc, he worked as an R&D scientist at Cytoskeleton, Inc. and as an assay development group leader at Southern Research Institute in Birmingham, AL, USA. He worked as a FIMM-EMBL Group Leader from 2010-2018. In 2018 he started as a Professor and Group Leader at the Biotech Research & Innovation Centre BRIC in Copenhagen, Denmark. He also has ongoing research activities at FIMM.
Cancer Chemical Systems Medicine
Using a chemical systems biology approach, our group aims to functionally and therapeutically stratify cancers, to identify the underlying signals that drive them, how this relates to their molecular features and how effective personalized drug combinations can be predicted and established. To accomplish this, we use high throughput approaches to study primary and early passage cancer cells and their drug responses and relate that to their molecular characteristics. Most cancers are highly heterogeneous both on a phenotypic and genetic level and we therefore focus our studies on single cell analyses where we follow drug responses of different cancer cell subpopulations as well as how the microenvironment and the plasticity of the cells affect drug sensitivity and -resistance. Our research focus is currently on acute myeloid leukemia and high-grade serous ovarian carcinoma. They are diseases where relatively effective first line therapies exist, but where drug resistance very frequently occurs over time. Therefore, these diseases have a very poor long-term prognosis and although they are molecularly well-defined, there is a great unmet need to functionally understand them.
Group Members at FIMM:
Daria Bulanova, Post-doctoral researcher
Ella Karjalainen, FIMM-EMBL Doctoral Student
Elina Parri, Doctoral Student
Mahesh Tambe, Post-doctoral researcher