Riitta Lahesmaa profile picture
InFLAMES Flagship
Director, Turku Bioscience Centre
Professor, Turku Bioscience Centre
MD, PhD, Professor
InFLAMES FLagship, Immunology


+358 29 450 2415
+358 40 718 4813
Tykistökatu 6

Areas of expertise

Immune regulation
Type 1 diabetes
autoimmune diseases


I have been the Director of Turku Bioscience Centre, Turku, Finland (https://bioscience.fi/) since 1998. I am the Co-Director of BioCity Turku Centre for Lifespan Research.

I got M.D. and Ph.D. in immunology from the University of Turku. I was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University Medical Center and a Principal Scientist at Roche Bioscience in Palo Alto, California. I have been a visiting professor at Harvard Medical School, Stanford University and UCSF. I founded and directed Turku Centre for Systems Biology 2000-2015 and was vice-director of The Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in Systems Immunology and Physiology. I was the Academy Professor of the Academy of Finland in 2016-2020.

I am the President of the Finnish Society of Immunology and member of the board of Scandinavian Society of Immunology. I have published > 200 original papers and reviews and have several issued patents and patent applications. I am an elected member of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters since 2012.

Web-site: https://bioscience.fi/research/molecular-systems-immunology/profile



My main contribution to teaching is to train PhD students and postdoctoral fellows. Over the years I have supervised 35 postdoctoral researchers of whom 29 completed, six in progress and 34 PhD students of whom 28 completed, six in progress.


My research in molecular systems immunology  aims at understanding molecular mechanisms of regulation of human immune response and pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes and other human immune mediated diseases. T cells orchestrate our immune system and a proper balance of T cells is crucial for immune defense in healthy individuals. In autoimmune diseases, out-of-control T cells drive pathologic inflammatory responses with devastating consequences for patients. Our studies have resulted in the identification of novel molecular mechanisms and new regulators of T cell functions. Our projects in progress aim at understanding the molecular basis of immune regulation to enable its modulation. Moreover, we aim at understanding the early immune response in children who develop Type 1 Diabetes to identify new biomarkers to improve predicting, monitoring, and early diagnosis of beginning of the disease process. This is of fundamental importance to be able to select the right patients for potential interventions as soon as the disease process kicks in.

Web-site: https://bioscience.fi/research/molecular-systems-immunology/profile/


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Biomarkers of nanomaterials hazard from multi-layer data (2022)

Nature Communications
Fortino V, Kinaret PAS, Fratello M, Serra A, Saarimäki LA, Gallud A, Gupta G, Vales G, Correia M, Rasool O, Ytterberg J, Monopoli M, Skoog T, Ritchie P, Moya S, Vázquez-Campos S, Handy R, Grafström R, Tran L, Zubarev R, Lahesmaa R, Dawson K, Loeschner K, Larsen EH, Krombach F, Norppa H, Kere J, Savolainen K, Alenius H, Fadeel B, Greco D
(Vertaisarvioitu alkuperäisartikkeli tai data-artikkeli tieteellisessä aikakauslehdessä (A1))

Umbilical cord blood DNA methylation in children who later develop type 1 diabetes (2022)

Laajala Essi, Kalim Ubaid U, Grönroos Toni, Rasool Omid, Halla-aho Viivi, Konki Mikko, Kattelus Roosa, Mykkänen Juha, Nurmio Mirja, Vähä-Mäkilä Mari, Kallionpää Henna, Lietzen Niina, Ghimire Bishwa R, Laiho Asta, Hyöty Heikki, Elo Laura L, Ilonen Jorma, Knip Mikael, Lund Riikka J, Orešič Matej, Veijola Riitta, Lähdesmäki Harri, Toppari Jorma, Lahesmaa Riitta
(Vertaisarvioitu alkuperäisartikkeli tai data-artikkeli tieteellisessä aikakauslehdessä (A1))

Permutation-based significance analysis reduces the type 1 error rate in bisulfite sequencing data analysis of human umbilical cord blood samples (2022)

Laajala Essi, Halla-Aho Viivi, Grönroos Toni, Kalim Ubaid Ullah, Vähä-Mäkilä Mari, Nurmio Mirja, Kallionpää Henna, Lietzén Niina, Mykkänen Juha, Rasool Omid, Toppari Jorma, Oresic Matej, Knip Mikael, Lund Riikka, Lahesmaa Riitta, Lähdesmäki Harri
(Vertaisarvioitu alkuperäisartikkeli tai data-artikkeli tieteellisessä aikakauslehdessä (A1))