MediCity Research Laboratory


We provide laboratory, infrastructure, and office space for altogether about 130 scientists and technicians. Our basic goal is to create a stimulating research and training environment for our researchers and produce high-quality research in biomedicine and translational medicine. We offer a multicultural working environment as many of our researchers and staff come from all over the world. We are part of the highly international Biocity community (watch the introduction video).

One of Medicity’s central expertise is in imaging including cell, tissue, and live animal imaging. As examples of this, Medicity has been a key player in setting up an ultramodern multiphoton microscope, small animal PET, and IVIS imaging systems. In addition, Medicity extensively contributes to Turku Bioimaging and to the animal facility infrastructure. The areas of research span from basic research to clinically-oriented projects. The work performed in Medicity is recognized both nationally and internationally as Medicity houses a group belonging to the Center of Excellence in Translational Cancer Biology and two of the Professors have received Anders Jahre Senior Prizes (the biggest medical prize in Scandinavia). Research groups based at Medicity have a great chance at working closely with Turku Bisocience Centre, sharing laboratory equipment and space.

Contact Information

Medicity's Director

Marko Salmi

Visiting Address

Tykistökatu 6A
Biocity, 4th floor
20520 Turku


Katri Kulmala

MediCity's Intranet page (requires sing-in)

MediCity on Social Media


Internships and open positions

A research grant for up to 12 months is available for one position at Medicity Research Laboratory at the University of Turku starting in September 2023 until August 2024.

This grant is part of a project investigating synthetic molecular networks for drug delivery. The applicant must be a student at the University of Turku or Åbo Akademi from a relevant field. The applicant should have good knowledge of organic chemistry and medicinal chemistry. Moreover, the applicant should have substantial prior experience of synthesizing molecular networks, analysing the noncovalent interaction in the complex chemical system and extending the application of the resulting system for delivery technology against cancer. The grant is 1700 €/month.

Please attach a CV, possible publication list and a motivational letter to the application.

Faculty of Medicine - Grant Application (Survey Powered by Webropol (


Several researchers and research groups at Medicity are participating in InFlames Flagship.

The InFLAMES Flagship (Innovation Ecosystem based on the Immune System) is a joint effort of University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University aiming at being an internationally recognized, top-level, immunological research and development cluster which will be globally attractive both for the researchers and business partners.

InFLAMES website

InFLAMES Twitter

InFLAMES media bank

Research Groups

Elenius Klaus: ​Signaling of Receptor Tyrosine Kinases in Cancer and Development

Principal Investigator

Klaus Elenius
Professor of Medical Biochemistry,
Faculty of Medicine, University of Turku
MediCity Research Laboratories and Turku Center for Biotechnology
University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University
Cancer Research Laboratories, FICAN West

klaus.elenius [at]

Description of Research

Our goal is to understand how receptor tyrosine kinases (RTK) regulate the pathogenesis of human diseases, such as cancer. This information is needed for the development of molecularly targeted therapies. To recognize aberrations of RTK signaling in diseased tissue our laboratory also works on the molecular mechanism by which RTKs control normal processes, such as embryonic development. The work mainly focuses on the ErbB family of RTKs. Our laboratory has contributed to the field by e.g. by characterizing novel RTK signaling mechanisms, by identifying novel ErbB4 isoforms, and by determining the role of ErbBs and their ligands in angiogenesis.

Current Research Topics

•    Screens for predictive RTK mutations
•    Novel RTK signaling mechanisms
•    Development of preclinical models for development novel RTK inhibitors
•    Sequencing of RTK inhibitor drug administration with cytotoxic agents
•    In vitro “basket trials” with ErbB inhibitor drugs
•    RTK signaling in angiogenesis and cardiovascular diseases
•    RTKs in pediatric malignancies
•    Biological role of novel ErbB4 isoforms in diseases and development

Group's Website

Grönroos Tove: Imaging of tumor microenvironment

Principal Investigator

Tove Grönroos

Senior Researcher, Turku PET Centre (University of Turku)

Adjunct Professor, Dept. Clinical Medicine (University of Turku)

tovgro [at]

Description of Research

Our translational research focuses on evaluating and validating PET tracers for imaging the tumor microenvironment. We are especially interested in approaches for determining the level of radioresistance in solid tumors that affect radiotherapy treatment outcomes in cancer patients. Such tracers can be utilized for treatment planning and follow-up purposes in clinical settings. Another objective is to re-evaluate some existing tracers for their possible use as cancer imaging tools or to measure changes in cancer-dependent metabolism pathways on a whole-body level, which might affect treatment outcomes. We combine PET technology with state-of-the-art technologies for molecular biology utilizing cell lines, tumor models, and patient-derived samples. 

Preclinical PET website

Turku PET Centre website

Haaparanta-Solin Merja: Validation and use of novel positron emission tomography (PET) radiopharmaceuticals

Principal Investigator

Merja Haparanta-Solin

Senior Research Fellow, Turku PET Centre, Docent, Institute of Biomedicine,

+358 40 715 1742

Description of Research

My research interest is on validation and use of novel positron emission tomography (PET) radiopharmaceuticals (radiotracers) developed at Turku PET Centre. The main targets are receptors, transporters, abnormal proteins and neuroinflammation in the central nervous system.

In my research, I focus on investigating the pharmacokinetics of new PET tracers in healthy and animal disease models by utilizing noninvasive PET imaging techniques that provides a functional or metabolic assessment of normal tissue or disease conditions. This in vivo imaging is combined with computed tomography (CT) and with ex vivo digital autoradiography. An important part of my research is also the method development and analyses of radioactive metabolites of PET tracers during the time course of imaging."

Hartiala Pauliina: Pathophysiology, prediction and treatment of complications after breast cancer treatment

Principal Investigator

Pauliina Hartiala

MD, PhD, Senior Research Fellow, Medicity Research Laboratory

Docent, Plastic Surgeon, Department of Plastic and General Surgery, Turku University Hospital,


Description of Research

Treatment of metastatic breast cancer requires surgical treatment and radiation therapy of the axillary lymph nodes. The disruption in the lymphatic flow may cause swelling of the affected limb known as lymphedema. Initial lymphedema often develops into chronic lymphedema, a progressive disease characterized by the loss of lymphatic function, accumulation of interstitial fluid and gradually to irreversible accumulation of fibrous adipose tissue. Lymphatic stasis, fibrosis, inflammation and adipose tissue expansion have been shown to play a role in lymphedema development, but the pathophysiology of lymphedema is still unresolved.

Our group investigates the pathophysiology, prediction and treatment of breast-cancer related lymphedema. The tissue composition and gene expression of normal and lymphedematous skin and adipose tissue with special emphasis on immune cells is investigated. We use single cell sequencing and mass cytometry (CyTOF) and imaging mass cytometry to obtain a comprehensive view on which cellular and molecular mediators are responsible for the initiation of adipose deposition in lymphedema. We are also characterizing the changes that take place in lymphatic endothelial cells in lymphatics as lymphedema progresses.  The aim is to clarify the pathophysiology of lymphedema and to pave the way for novel therapeutic approaches for this chronic and debilitating condition.

Group Members

Gabriela Martinez Chacon, Doctoral Candidate
Francisco Lucena Aguilar, Master Student
Heino Jyrki: Structure and Function of Collagen Receptor Integrins

Principal Investigator

Jyrki Heino
Scientific Director, BioCity Turku (BioCity Turku)
Professor, Biochemistry (Department of Biochemistry)
jyrki.heino [at]

Description of Research

Our research group is studying the structure¬–function relationship of the collagen receptor integrins. The most important methods used include the production of recombinant protein domains, functional assays and mutations of the domains, bioinformatics as well as the expression and analysis of the full-length receptor proteins on cell surface. This has lead to a project aimed at development of small molecular inhibitors for collagen receptors. 
In addition to the structural work we are also interested in integrin signaling, especially atypical signaling mechanisms, including low avidity integrin–ligand interaction and signaling by nonactivated integrins. Most recently, we have studied the role of collagen receptor signaling in prostate cancer and the consequences of post-translational modifications, such as citrullination, of the integrin ligands in inflammation In these experiments we use the general methods of molecular cell biology, imaging by confocal microscopy and proteomics. In a separate project we have developed new software for quantitative bioimaging (BioImageXD).

Group Members

Jarmo Käpylä, Senior Scientist, Ph.D., Docent

Pekka Rappu, Postdoctoral Researcher

Johanna Jokinen, Postdoctoral Researcher

Elina Siljamäki, Postdoctoral Researcher

Anna-Brita Puranen, Doctoral Candidates

Marjaana Ojalill, Doctoral Candidates

Salli Keinänen, Doctoral Candidates

Maria Tuominen, Laboratory Technician

Noora Virtanen, Undergraduate Student

Ville Jokinen, Undergraduate Student

Helin Jatta: Kinetic modeling of radiotracers in preclinical PET research

Principal Investigator

Jatta Helin

PhD, Manager of Preclinical in vivo PET Imaging

Preclinical Imaging Unit, Turku PET Centre (University of Turku)

jatta.helin [at]

Description of Research

The main goal of our research is to provide quantitative modeling tools that enable kinetic analyses of animal PET imaging data. Tracer kinetic models can be exploited to measure blood flow, membrane transport, metabolism, and ligand-receptor interactions noninvasively and quantitatively in various animal disease models tailored for metabolic disorders, and neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases. Ongoing projects aim at translating preclinically achieved data into human PET imaging protocols to be used in research and clinical settings.

Preclinical PET unit website

Turku PET Centre website

Hollmen Maija: Tumor Immunology and Immunotherapy

Principal Investigator

Maija Hollmen
Academy Research Fellow, Department of Clinical Medicine (Department of Clinical Medicine),
Adjunct Professor, MediCity Research Laboratory (Faculty of Medicine)
maijal [at]

Description of Research

Our research exploits a unique scavenger receptor Clever-1, expressed on a subpopulation of immunosuppressive macrophages, to alleviate tumor related inflammation and develop Clever-1 as a companion therapeutic, diagnostic, and prognostic biomarker to treat and identify patients under immunosuppression. This involves the use of in vivo tumor models and sophisticated immunological assays with cutting-edge technology and state-of-the-art imaging combined with fresh human cancer patient material to elucidate the function of Clever-1 in controlling macrophage mediated local and systemic immune responses. Our results potentially have a high impact in understanding the mechanism of macrophage-mediated immunosuppression in cancer and promoting anti-Clever-1 immunotherapy into clinical trials where it may have benefits in comparison with currently available immune activating drugs.

Group's website / Group's Twitter

Jalkanen Sirpa: Cell Trafficking in Cancer and Inflammation

Principal Investigator

Sirpa Jalkanen
Professor, Academician
Institute of Biomedicine

sirpa.jalkanen [at]

Description of Research

The overall goal of our research is to elucidate the mechanisms regulating the traffic of leukocytes and cancer cells in the body. Harmful leukocyte migration into the joints in rheumatoid arthritis and into the pancreas in diabetes are examples of diseases where leukocytes cause extensive destruction. These inflammatory diseases can be cured by inhibiting leukocyte trafficking. Also, metastasising malignant cells often use the same mechanisms as leukocytes when extravasating from blood to different organs or migrating via the lymphatics into distant sites. The results obtained can be utilized when new types of drugs are developed to treat harmful inflammations and cancer.

Group's website

Li Jianwei: Molecular Systems Engineering

Principal Investigator

Jianwei Li
Senior Research Fellow, MediCity, PhD, Group Leader [at]

Description of Research

Molecular Systems Engineering is an emerging field by understanding the fundementals of molecular properties and dynamics in synthetic complex systems, and exploring sophisticated functions for advanced applications in biomedicine, materials and energy. Our laboratory uses the tools of dynamic combinatorial chemistry (DCC), supramolecular chemistry and computer chemistry to fabricate the framework of complex chemical systems, investigates the self-assembly in such systems and uncovers the working principles at molecular level behind them. We have learned that self-assembly can not only direct the formation of beautiful and intriguing structures i.e. catenanes and “Russian-doll”-like supramolecular architectures, but also promote the molecules to make copies of themselves as the living matters in nature. Currently we are trying to extend the board of DCC into the fields of materials science, enzymology and biology by three lines of research: 1) dynamic combinatorial biomaterials for controlling cell behaviors; 2) enzyme-directed DCC; and 3) DCC in vivo.

Group's website

Lopez Picon Francisco: Preclinical Neuroimaging

Principal Investigator

Francisco Lopez Picon

Adjunct Professor, Turku PET Centre

francisco.lopez [at]

Description of Research

We work in the development and characterization of novel positron emission tomography (PET) radiotracers to investigate disease relevant targets for neurodegenerative, neuroinflammatory and neuropsychiatric diseases. We have special interest in engineering antibodies that are able to cross the blood brain barrier and use them as PET radiotracer to image brain targets (ImmunoPET approach).  Furthermore, we used relevant disease models of neurodegeneration and neuroinflammation in conjunction with the PET radiotracers to investigate disease progression, and perform longitudinal pharmacological intervention studies.

Preclinical PET Unit - Turku PET Centre

Kurppa Kari: Cancer Drug Resistance

​​​Principal Investigator

Kari J. Kurppa
Senior Researcher, Institute of Biomedicine

Description of Research

Our aim is to understand the means cancer cells use to develop resistance to cancer therapies. Our special focus are the mechanisms that enable the establishment of minimal residual disease, or govern the maintenance of residual tumors following targeted cancer therapy. The overarching goal of our research is to develop rational combination strategies that will extend the long-term efficacy of clinically used cancer therapies.

While targeted therapy has transformed the treatment of cancer, the long-term efficacy of these strategies is hampered by acquired drug resistance. In many cases, clinical drug resistance is preceded by minimal residual disease (MRD) state, where residual tumors stay dormant for an extended period of time. Emerging evidence indicates that the establishment of MRD is mainly regulated by non-genetic mechanisms, as cancer cells adapt to treatment by acquiring new phenotypic states that no longer depend on the targeted oncogene. These slow-cycling drug tolerant cells can regain proliferative state upon drug withdrawal or acquisition of additional resistance mechanisms, and as such serve as a reservoir of dormant cells capable of re-initiating the growth of a drug resistant tumor. Understanding the mechanisms underlying the establishment or maintenance of minimal residual disease would enable the development of rational combination strategies aimed to prevent or limit residual disease, leading to prolonged survival of cancer patients.

Group's website

Mattila Pieta: ​Lymphocyte Activation Lab

Principal Investigator

Pieta Mattila

InFLAMES Group Leader, Adjunct Professor, Institute of Biomedicine
pieta.mattila [at]

Description of Research

We investigate the regulation of B lymphocyte activation that mounts specific and highly effective antibody responses against pathogens. However, if lymphocyte activation is defected, we face pathological conditions such as autoimmunity or lymphoma. In our research, we integrate advanced light microscopy and proteomic approaches with cellular and in vivo models, to gain novel understanding on the cell biological phenomena of B cell activation and immune responses.

Group's website / Twitter

Mildner Alexander: Monocyte and macrophage function during health and disease

Principal Investigator

Alexander Mildner, Associate Professor,

alexander.mildner [at]

Orcid profile

Description of Research

Tissue resident macrophages are long-lived cells that are distributed throughout the body and migrate into the tissue during embryogenesis. They are specialized in ingesting and processing dead cells, debris and foreign materials, and in the recruitment of other immune cells – like monocytes – to sites of injury in response to inflammatory signals. Monocytes, on the other hand, represent short-lived cells that can be found in the peripheral circulation. Traditionally, it was assumed that monocytes represent an intermediate stage, linking mononuclear phagocyte precursors in the bone marrow with terminally differentiated tissue resident macrophages. However, this concept seems to hold true only for certain tissues. In most of the cases, embryo-derived tissue macrophages are endowed with an intrinsic self-renewal program to maintain homeostasis, while monocyte descendants are devoid of this capacity. Instead, monocytes are highly plastic cells and can differentiate – depending on the cellular context – into various cell types with fundamental different functions like effector monocytes, monocyte-derived dendritic cells and monocyte-derived macrophages.

The transcription factor C/EBPβ is expressed in cells of the myeloid lineage, especially in monocytes, macrophages and dendritic cells. Recently, we applied epigenetic approaches to identify C/EBPβ as one of the main regulators of monocyte and Alveolar macrophage development under physiological conditions. Deficiency of C/EBPβ in mice let to a complete absence of Ly6C- monocytes due to impaired induction of the monocytic survival factor Nr4a1. In Alveolar macrophages, C/EBPβ controlled the expression of a lipid catabolic program.

We are currently investigating the differentiation of myeloid cells under steady state as well as pathological conditions such as autoimmunity in various tissues using epigenetic approaches including ATACseq, ChIPseq and high resolution immune profiling like scRNA-Seq. The central goal of our laboratory is to identify new factors that are involved in the differentiation of monocytes and macrophages under pathological conditions. We hope to manipulate the fate and activation status of macrophages and thereby beneficially influence disease progression.

Current topics

Monocytes differentiation and function during neuroinflammation

                      Microglia heterogeneity

                      Tissue-specific function of macrophages


Group's website / Twitter @MildnerLab / Research Gate


Nakamura Miho: Engineering of Bone to Prevent Osteoporosis

Principal Investigator

Miho Nakamura
Adjunct Professor, Department of Clinical Medicine, Senior Researcher at TCSM, Institute of Biomedicine

Description of Research

Main goal of our research is to find a solution for bone diseases in elderly population, such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. Our research is aiming at multidisciplinary collaborations between medicine, cell biology and materials science.

My current research interest includes:

  • Bio-inspired biomaterials to enhance bone regeneration through the manipulation of bone cells (osteoblasts, osteocytes and osteoclasts)
  • New parameters for the evaluation of bone quality using knowledge of materials science
  • Mechanism of osteolysis in aseptic loosening
  • Engineering of bone to prevent osteoporosis

Keywords: Biomaterials, Tissue Engineering, Bone regeneration, Osteoblasts, Osteocytes, Osteoclasts, Osteolysis

Group members

Uruj Sarwar, Doctoral Candidate

Jorgan Sobrepena, Master Student

Leire Bergara Muguruza, Undergraduate Student

We are looking for students (undergraduates, masters, Ph.D. candidates all welcome)! Please feel free to contact/ visit us.

Selected Publications

Tuukkanen J, Nakamura M. Hydroxyapatite as a nanomaterial for tissue engineering and drug therapy. Curr Pharm Design, 2017: 23(26), 3786-3793.

Nakamura M, Hori N, Ando H, Namba S, Toyama T, Nishimiya N, Yamashita K. Surface Free Energy Predominates in Cell Adhesion to Hydroxyapatite through Wettability. Mater Sci Eng C 2016: 62, 283-292.

Nakamura M, Hiratai R, Hentunen T, Salonen J, Yamashita K. Hydroxyapatite with High Carbonate Substitutions Promotes Osteoclast Resorption through Osteocyte-like Cells. ACS Biomater Sci Eng 2016: 2 (2), 259-267.

Nakamura M, Hentunen T, Salonen J, Nagai A, Yamashita K. Characterization of bone mineral-resembling biomaterials for optimizing human osteoclast differentiation and resorption. J Biomed Mater Res A, 2013: 101A (11), 3141-3151.

Nakamura M, Soya T, Hiratai R, Nagai A, Hashimoto K, Morita I, Yamashita K. Endothelial cell migration and morphogenesis on silk fibroin scaffolds including hydroxyapatite electret. J Biomed Mater Res A 2012: 100A, 969-977.

Naucler Cecilia: Immunometabolism

Principal Investigator

Cecilia Naucler

Professor, InFLAMES Flagship

Description of Research

The long-term goal of our projects is to further understand how cellular metabolism control immune activation, cancer cell growth, and the life cycle of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) that appears to be closely involved in the pathogenesis of inflammatory disease and cancer. We hope that this will allow us to find new treatment strategies for many of our common diseases. Our research is carried out at Turku University, MediCity Research Laboratory and Karolinska Institutet.

HCMV is a common virus, infecting 70-90% of the worlds population. This virus is considered harmless for healthy individuals but may cause severe disease in immunocompromised patients. Emerging evidence also imply a role of this virus in inflammatory diseases and cancer. HCMV is reactivated by inflammation, can drive inflammatory processes and is often found in inflamed tissue specimens obtained from patients with inflammatory diseases such as SLE, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, cardiovascular diseases and aortic aneurysms, while rarely detected in healthy tissues. HCMV is also commonly found to be active in tumors of different origin such as glioblastoma, neuroblastoma, medulloblastoma, breast, colon, prostate and ovarian cancer. Both primary tumors as well as metastases are virus positive, while healthy tissues surrounding tumors and metastases are virus negative. We are currently studying the effect of anti-HCMV therapy in 220 glioblastoma patients in a randomized trial, VIGAS2. Retrospective analyses of so far treated patients (139 patients) indicate substantial prolonged survival time in patients receiving anti-viral therapy, which suggest a potential role of this virus in cancer.

Activation of immune cells depend on alterations in cellular metabolism; i.e the Warburg effect, which is also essential for cancer cells to grow. HCMV establishes the Warburg effect in infected cells, which appears to be essential for reactivation of latent HCMV and virus production Thereby our studies of viral regulation of cellular metabolism unifies the many diseases associated with HCMV. Although the metabolic alterations to the Warburg effect is essential for inflammation and cancer, it is not known how cells switch from normal metabolism to the Warburg effect. We have used HCMV as a tool to try to understand the underlying mechanisms of the Warburg effect in immune cells and cancer cells. We made unexpected insights into how cells with a normal metabolism switch to the Warburg effect, which allowed us to identify metabolic inhibitors that we are now testing how they affect immune cell activation and cancer cell growth. 

Group Members

Hatem Abouguendia, Doctoral Researcher

Iqra Khawaja, Doctoral Student

Mohammad Pirouzfar, Doctoral Student

Päivi Ylä-Anttila

Shaghayegh Hasanpour, Doctoral Student

Parikka Vilhelmiina: Pathophysiological mechanisms and treatment options for neonatal hypoxic-ischemic injury

Principal Investigator

Vilhelmiina Parikka, MD, PhD

Senior Research Fellow, Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Medicity Research Laboratory and Turku PET Centre

vilpar [at]

Description of Research

The main interest of our research group is in pathophysiological mechanisms and treatment options for neonatal hypoxic-ischemic injury. The research project aims to provide deeper understanding of the pathological processes behind the brain injury, to identify tools for the early recognition of the injury and to develop new clinically relevant strategies for the treatment of this group of vulnerable infants. The research group has a special interest in the role of inflammation and endothelial injury in the pathophysiological process of the brain injury. The role of PET imaging scans as an early marker for metabolic changes and inflammation in a preclinical model of neonatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy is actively studied. 


Salmi Marko: Leukocyte Traffic and the Immune Response

Principal Investigator

Marko Salmi, MD, PhD
Professor of Molecular Medicine,
Medicity Research Laboratory

Tel: +358-50-3385678

Description of Research

Leukocyte migration from the blood and lymph into tissues is critical for generation of normal immune responses. Abnormal leukocyte traffic contributes to the pathogenesis of all inflammatory diseases and several other diseases, such as cancer. We study the molecular mechanisms and functional implications of leukocyte migration in the body. We have identified several new adhesion molecules (e.g. vascular adhesion protein-1 (VAP-1), CD73, stabilin-1, plasmalemma vesicle associated protein (Plvap)) on blood and lymphatic vessels and leukocytes, which mediate different steps of leukocyte extravasation from the vessels.

We have also studied the therapeutic value of modulating the function of these and other adhesion receptors in inflammation and cancer. We also elucidate the differentiation pathways of monocytes/macrophages by studying the role of the developmental origin and tissue niche for their plasticity and functions. In addition, we are interested in defining the routes by which antigens enter the lymph node parenchyma via the lymphatic vasculature during the triggering of immune responses. As a separate line of research, we have analyzed the value of adhesion molecules and cytokines as biomarkers of disease in population and patient cohorts.

Group's website




Takeda Akira: Immune and structural cell interaction in health and disease

Principal Investigator

Akira Takeda, PhD
Academy Research Fellow,
MediCity Research Laboratory,
InFLAMES flagship

Tel. +358 29 450 4383

Twitter @akirataked

Description of Research

Although immune cells play a critical role in human diseases such as infection and cancer, structural cells including endothelial and stromal cells are also crucial for maintaining the function of the immune cells. Recent single-cell technologies showed multiple heterogenous subsets in structural cells that have not been considered before. The aim of our group is (1) to find unrecognized heterogeneous structural cell subsets in human organs including lymphoid organs and tumors using single-cell technologies, and (2) to find the new molecular mechanism between heterogeneous structural cells and immune cells in health and disease.

Group's website

Zavialov Anton: Joint Biotechnology Laboratory

Principal Investigator

Anton Zavialov
Senior Research Fellow, Joint Biotechnology Laboratory (JBL)
anton.zavialov [at]

Description of Research

We work in the field of structural biology and structure-based drug design. Our main methods are x-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy. The main focus of our research is the unraveling of molecular mechanisms governing the interplay between microbial pathogens and their hosts, and the exploitation of these finding in medicine. We are particularly interested in host-pathogen interactions during the early steps of infection: bacterial attachment and biofilm formation mediated by fimbrial adhesins and host tissue invasion mediated by the Type III secretion system. Blocking these steps could prevent infections caused by antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Another line of our research explores the intricate cell signaling mechanism of the novel growth factor-enzyme, adenosine deaminase type 2 (ADA2). This study paves the way for the development of novel means to treat blood cancers and vascular disorders, including a genetic disease called deficiency of ADA2 (DADA2). In addition, we develop a novel ADA-based immuno-oncological therapy of advanced cancers.

Group Members

Minna Tuittila, Postdoctoral Researcher

Sari Paavilainen, Senior Researcher

Henri Malmi, Doctoral Candidate

Maksym Skaldin, Doctoral Candidate

Vladimir Zav’yalov, Visiting Professor

Selected publications

Skaldin M, Tuittila M, Zavialov And. V & Zavialov Ant. V (2018) Secreted bacterial adenosine deaminase is an evolutionary precursor of adenosine deaminase growth factor. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 35:2851-2861.

Pakharukova N, McKenna S, Tuittila M, Paavilainen S, Parilova O., Malmi H, Matthews S. & Zavialov AV (2018) Archaic and alternative chaperones preserve pilin folding energy by providing incomplete structural information. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 293(44):17070-17080.

Pakharukova N, Tuittila M, Paavilainen S, Malmi H, Parilova O, Teneberg S, Knight S & Zavialov AV‡ (2018) Structural basis for Acinetobacter baumannii biofilm formation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 115, 5558-5563

Gurung J, Amer A, Francis MK, Costa TRD, Chen S, Zavialov AV & Francis MS (2018) Heterologous Complementation Studies With the YscX and YscY Protein Families Reveals a Specificity for Yersinia pseudotuberculosis Type III Secretion. Frontiers in cellular and infection microbiology 8, 80.

Pakharukova N, Roy SP, Tuttila MT, Paavilanen S, Ingars A-K, Skaldin M, Lamminmäki U, Härt T, Teneberg S. & Zavialov AV (2016). Structural basis for Myf and Psa fimbriae-mediated tropism of pathogenic strains of Yersinia for host tissues. Molecular Microbiology, 102, 593–610.

Pakharukova N., Garnett G, Tuittila MT, Paavilainen S., Diallo M, Xu Y., Matthews S. and Zavialov AV (2015) Structural insight into archaic and alternative chaperone-usher pathways reveals non-classical mechanism of pilus biogenesis. PLoS Pathogens, 11:e1005269.

Amer A, Gurung J, Costa T, Zavialov AV, Forsberg Å  & Francis M (2015) YopN and TyeA hydrophobic contacts required for regulating Ysc-Yop type III secretion activity by Yersinia pseudotuberculosis. Frontiers in cellular and infection microbiology, 6:66.

Berry A, Yang Y, Pakharukova N, Garnett J, Lee W, Cota E, Marchant J, Roy S, Tuittila M, Liu B, Inman K, Ruiz-Perez F, Mandomando I, Nataro J, Zavialov AV and Matthews S (2014) Structural insight into host recognition by aggregative adherence fimbriae of enteroaggregative Escherichia coli. PLoS Pathogens, 10, e1004404

Virtanen Kirsi: Human brown adipose tissue in health and in metabolic disorders

Principal Investigator

Kirsi Virtanen

Associate Professor, Turku PET Centre (University of Turku and Turku University Hospital)

kianvi [at]

Description of Research

The main focus of our research is to understand the function of human brown adipose tissue in health and in metabolic disorders. Current projects are focused on ascertaining the crosstalk between the gut microbiota/products and the immune system with brown adipose tissue function in humans.

This project functions under the framework of the INFLAMES flagship, funded by the Academy of Finland, and aims to: i) ascertain how the infiltrated immune cells within brown adipose tissue modulate its function, and ii) ascertain the mechanisms by which an inflammatory environment may induce brown adipose tissue dysfunction.

Group's website

Group's Twitter

Group Leaders

Latest Pubications