About us

How can a fertilized egg cell develop into a walking and talking person? This is according to me one of the most fascinating questions of science. To get closer to the answer, I studied developmental biology for my Master’s and defended my PhD in 2017 at the University of Helsinki. In my PhD thesis I studied how an important protein complex regulates genes that affect cell identity. Starting in the year 2018, I have worked as research coordinator for the Centre of Excellence in Stem Cell Metabolism, MetaStem. In my work I coordinate research collaborations and do own research on stem cell metabolism. In addition, I am for example in charge of the science communication of MetaStem, like these web pages. 

Emilia Kuuluvainen, PhD, Research coordinator for the Centre of Excellence in Stem Cell Metabolism
Centre of Excellence in Stem Cell Metabolism, MetaStem web pages
Centre of Excellence in Stem Cell Metabolism, MetaStem Twitter @MetaStem_Center

Contact the scientists behind the stem cell portal: kantasolu.portaali[at]helsinki.fi

The links to further reading are in different languages. We welcome suggestions of additional useful links.

I defended my PhD at the University of Helsinki Faculty of Medicine in 2009. I got interested in stem cells while working at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in US where I did research on the communication of stem cells and their neighbour cells. My own research group at The University of Helsinki and Karolinska Institutet in Sweden has been studying processes that influence stem cell renewal and aging since 2013. We mainly focus on stem cell metabolism and the interactions of tissue stem cells with their niche. Since 2018, I am also the director of the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in Stem Cell Metabolism.

Pekka Katajisto, PhD, Associate professor, HiLIFE, Institute of Biotechnology, Director of the Centre of Excellence in Stem Cell Metabolism, University of Helsinki and Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Karolinska institutet

Pekka Katajisto group web pages

I did my PhD at the Helsinki Children’s Hospital in the 1980’s when I also specializes in pediatrics. Since those days, my research has focused on the insulin producing cells of the pancreas. During my PostDoc studies in San Diego in 1991-1994 I got familiar with cell therapy as a treatment option for diabetes. During the last 20 years I have led a research group, which aims to produce functioning pancreatic cells from stem cells for diabetes cell therapy and for understanding how diabetes arises. I am also the director of the Stem Cells and Metabolism research program at the University of Helsinki Faculty of Medicine.   

Timo Otonkoski, MD PhD, Professor, Director of the Stem Cells and Metabolism research program, Faculty of Medicine, Centre of Excellence in Stem Cell Metabolism, University of Helsinki and the New Children’s Hospital, HUS

Timo Otonkoski group web pages

I’m a specialist in clinical genetics and most of my job is trying to figure out why something has gone wrong with development of the stem cells of my patients. The best thing would be if we could influence the development of the cells positively and this I have been trying to learn ever since I got my PhD in medicine at the University of Helsinki Centre of Excellence in developmental biology in 1998. I did research abroad in Montreal in 1999-2001 and in California in 2014-2015 and now I work at the Meilahti hospital and at Biomedicum, where I have my own small research group.  

Kirmo Wartiovaara, MD PhD, Docent (Adjunct professor) in stem cell biology, Stem Cells and Metabolism research program, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Specialist in clinical genetics, HUS

Read more about Kirmo Wartiovaara’s research

After my Master’s degree studies in genetics I defended my PhD at the University of Helsinki Faculty of Medicine in 2007 on mitochondrial disease. I have done research on hereditary disease, especially neurological disease and the genetic cause, molecular mechanisms and metabolism effects of mitochondrial disease. I started my own research group in 2011. We use patient stem cell models to clarify disease mechanisms and we also study how alterations in mitochondria function influence cells and tissues. I am also the director of the Research programs unit at the University of Helsinki Faculty of Medicine.

Henna Tyynismaa, PhD, Associate professor, Director of Research programs unit, Faculty of Medicine, Centre of Excellence in Stem Cell Metabolism, University of Helsinki.

Henna Tyynsimaa group web pages  

Following Master’s degree studies in biochemistry I did my PhD on gene regulation at the University of Turku in 2004. I worked for four years as a PostDoc in Germany and Singapore, during which I learned how to use fruit fly genetics to study nutrient sensing of cells. My own research group studies the physiological nutrient regulation of animals and one focus area is how intestinal stem cell function is affected by changes in nutrition.  

Ville Hietakangas, PhD, Professor, Molecular and Integrative Biosciences research program, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Institute of Biotechnology, Centre of Excellence in Stem Cell Metabolism, University of Helsinki

Ville Hietakangas group web pages