Areas of expertise
I finished my MSc studies in Biology in the University of Helsinki in 1987. I carried out PhD studies in the group of Prof. Kari Alitalo at the Hartman Institute and received the PhD degree in Molecular Genetics in the University of Helsinki in 1992. During years 1993-1996, I worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the group of Prof. Robert Eisenman at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, USA. In 1996, I returned back to Finland and joined the Turku Centre for Biotechnology as a group leader and a research fellow of the Academy of Finland. In 1997, I became Adjunct Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology in the Department of Biology, University of Turku, where I have been employed in teaching positions since 2006. Currently I act there as University Lecturer, sharing my time between research and teaching.
As University Lecturer in Cell Physiology and Molecular Genetics, my courses have ranged from Cell and Animal Physiology and Environmental Toxicology to Molecular, Developmental and Evolutionary Genetics as well as Bioethics. I have been actively involved in developing the Scientia Aboensis teaching collaboration between the University of Turku and the Åbo Academy, and as part of that I am currently planning a new course on Model organisms in Biological research. I have also been responsible for the MSc thesis seminars, and continuously supervise undergraduate and graduate students as well as postdoctoral fellows.
The research in my group is currently divided into three major projects:
1. In a project funded by the Academy of Finland, we analyse the physiological roles of PIM family kinases and their known or novel substrates, especially in the regulation of cell motility and metabolism. There we use modern methods of molecular and cell biology, including CRISPR/Cas9-based genomic editing. Our studies are supported by our collaborations with chemists, who have provided us with PIM-selective inhibitors to be used as research tools, and with engineers, who will introduce us to the microfluidistic organ-on-chips.
2. In another project initiated with mobility funding from the Academy of Finland, we use the C. elegans nematodes as our model organisms to study evolutionarily conserved physiological functions of PIM-related kinases, such as regulation of chemosensation.
3. In a third project funded by the Finnish Work Environment Fund and more recently by the University of Turku, we use the C. elegans nematodes as bioindicators to monitor health hazards associated with environmental toxins, such as those derived from chemicals or microbial contaminations.