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Institute of Biotechnology
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(Visiting address: Viikinkaari 5d)
00014 University of Helsinki

Tel +358 2941 59921
Fax +358 2941 59366

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Identity Code: FI-03134717

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Research groups


The research activities of the Institute are carried out mainly in four research programs, each consisting of several multidisciplinary research teams focusing on a specific area of molecular biology, cell biology or biotechnology.


Research Program in Cell and Molecular Biology

The research of this program focuses on analysing basic principles of cell morphogenesis and dynamics as well as on elucidating the mechanisms by which specific processes form and function in highly specialized mammalian cells such as neurons.

The Program in Cell and Molecular Biology currently consist of seven research groups whose research interests range from intracellular cytoskeletal and membrane dynamics to the regulation of transcription and neuronal activity.

The research groups use mammalian and yeast cells as well as the C. elegans nematode as model systems in these studies. Furthermore, the program harbors a modern biological imaging center (Light Microscopy Unit) for advanced light microscopy studies on live cells.

Group Leaders:

Pekka Lappalainen, Program Leader
Actin and plasma membrane dynamics
Lappalainen lab

Ville Hietakangas
Nutrient sensing
Hietakangas lab

Eija Jokitalo
Morphological and functional subdomains of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER)
Jokitalo`s lab / EM Unit

Pekka Katajisto
Stem cells and aging
Katajisto lab

Maria Vartiainen
Actin as an organizer of gene expression
Vartiainen lab

Other independent Principal investigators::

Susanna Fagerholm

Hongzia Zhao

Minna Poukkula
Poukkula lab

Brendan Battersby

Cory Dunn

Research Program in Developmental Biology

The research in the program elucidates the molecular pathways that regulate organogenesis in both vertebrate and invertebrate model systems. The focus is on signalling networks that mediate the communication between cells during morphogenesis and guide the differentiation of progenitor cells, as well as their evolutionary aspects.

The following topics are of special interest:

    • Inductive interactions in organogenesis
    • Regulation of stem cell behaviour
    • Evolutionary developmental biology

Group Leaders:

Jukka Jernvall, Program Leader
Evolution and development
Jernvall lab

Nicolas Di-Poi
Craniofacial tissues: from Evo-Devo to therapeutic applications
Di-Poi lab

Marja Mikkola
Epithelial morphogenesis – from molecular pathways to cellular behavior
Mikkola lab

Mart Saarma
Structure, biology and therapeutic potential of neurotrophic factors
Saarma lab

Osamu Shimmi
BMP signaling and morphogenesis in Drosophila
Shimmi lab

Irma Thesleff
Development and renewal of ectodermal organs
Thesleff lab

Other independent Principal investigators:

Fred Michon

Mikko Airavaara

Jaan-Olle Andressoo

Isaac Salazar-Ciudad

Laura Ahtiainen

Andrii Domanskyi

Merja Voutilainen


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Research Program in Genome Biology

The Research Program in Genome Biology takes advantage of the rapidly emerging whole-genome sequences and the related technologies for clarifying their function and dynamics.

The program provides a timely collaborative forum to integrate and implement the new technologies as well as bioinformatics and experimental approaches. The program also enhances integration of the genome analysis core units of the Institute together with relevant BI groups.

Group Leaders:

Mikko Frilander, Program Leader
Pre-RNA splicing group
Frilander lab

Petri Auvinen
DNA Sequencing and Genomics Laboratory
DNA lab

Susana Garcia
Degradation of toxic RNAs in the cell - mechanisms and impact on degenerative disorders

Dario Greco
Systems toxicology and pharmacology

Yrjö Helariutta
Genetic control of wood development
Helariutta lab

Liisa Holm
Bioinformatics group
Holm lab

Marikki Laiho
Laiho lab

Ari Löytynoja
Evolutionary sequence analysis
Löytynoja lab

Ville Mustonen
Bioinformatics, Computational Biology and Evolution

Ari Pekka Mähönen
Growth dynamics in vascular cambium
Mähönen lab

Craig Primmer
Molecular biology of adaptation in salmonid fishes
Primmer research

Alan Schulman
LUKE/BI Plant Genome Dynamics
Schulman lab

Markku Varjosalo
Systems Biology Research Group and Proteomics unit
Varjosalo lab

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Research Program in Structural Biology and Biophysics

This research program focuses on modern methods for determining the three-dimensional structure and chemical mechanism of macromolecules and macromolecular complexes. Of particular interest are the mechanisms of redox systems such as cytochrome c oxidase and Complex I of the respiratory chain, the structure and function of viruses, the chemical mechanism of model enzyme systems, and the structure of membrane proteins and membrane protein complexes.

The program also includes protein chemistry as a means of characterizing and identifying the protein components behind these complexes, both as a research and service and a core facility. The NMR laboratory collaborates on a wide variety of projects. Its equipment includes a state-of-the-art 800 MHz spectrometer.

Group Leaders:

Markku Varjosalo, Program Leader
Systems biology of the cellular regulatory networks
Varjosalo lab

Sarah Butcher
Nanoparticle description and tracking in virology and drug delivery
Butcher lab

Hideo Iwai
Protein splicing and protein alternative splicing for biotechnology and structural biology
Iwai lab
NMR Center

Ville Paavilainen
Structure and function of the protein translocation machinery
Paavilainen lab

Other Project at the NMR Laboratory: Hannu Maaheimo (VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland)

Other independent Principal investigators:

Tommi Kajander

Vivek Sharma
Multi-scale modeling and simulation of mitochondrial proteins
(A joint affiliation with the Department of Physics)
Sharma research

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