MediCity Research Laboratory


We provide laboratory, infrastructure, and office space for altogether about 100 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 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 the basic research up 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

Sirpa Jalkanen

Visiting Address

Tykistökatu 6A
Biocity, 4th floor
20520 Turku

Secretary Katri Kulmala

Medicity on Social Media

Internships and open positions

Right now we don't have any open positions.

Grant opportunities for students of University of Turku (sign in required)

For internship opportunities at a MediCity research group please send motivation letter + CV to a group leader directly.


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

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 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

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

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

Ilonen Jorma, Lempainen Johanna: Immunogenetics of Autoimmune Diseases

Principal Investigators

Jorma Ilonen
Professor, Institute of Biomedicine (Institute of Biomedicine)
jsilonen [at]

Johanna Lempainen

Department of Pediatrics, Institute of Clinical Medicine,
University of TurkuUnit for Rare Diseases,
Turku University Hospital
nojoaa [at]

Description of Research

These diseases result from interaction between genetic and environmental factors. The single most important gene region regulating immune response is the (MHC) major histocompatibility complex, in humans the HLA gene complex. Polymorphisms within genes in this region are largely responsible for the genetic susceptibility to many autoimmune diseases including type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

We have performed genetic studies in the series of the Finnish Pediatric Diabetes Register and genetic screening for disease susceptibility for recruitment of subjects to several type 1 diabetes associated follow-up projects including DIPP, TRIGR, PRODIA, FINDIA, DIABIMMUNE and TEDDY where children at genetic risk have been followed-up in attempt to identify environmental risk factors and understand pathogenetic mechanisms responsible for destruction of pancreatic ß-cells.

Results based on definition of both HLA and non-HLA gene polymorphisms as well as clinical characteristics suggest heterogeneity in pathogenetic mechanisms of type 1 diabetes and different interactions between genetic and environmental factors in various phases of the autoimmune process leading to clinical disease. 

Many of the mentioned studies have included trials attempting to prevent clinical type 1 diabetes either before the appearance of diabetes associated autoimmunity (primary prevention) or after appearance of diabetes associated autoantibodies (secondary prevention).

Group Members

Johanna Lempainen, Senior Researcher

Antti-Pekka Laine, Senior Researcher,

Minna Kiviniemi, Senior Researcher

Mari-Liis Mikk, Doctoral Candidate

Mia Karlsson, Laboratory Technician

Terhi Laakso, Laboratory Technician

Piia Nurmi, Laboratory Technician

Anne Suominen, Laboratory Technician

Ritva Suominen, Laboratory Technician

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

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 Cytoskeleton

Principal Investigator

Pieta Mattila
Academy Research Fellow, Institute of Biomedicine
pieta.mattila [at]

Description of Research

Our research group studies the regulation of lymphocyte activation with a special focus on the control provided by the cellular cytoskeleton. We integrate immunological and cell biological methods including advanced light microscopy, biochemistry, and cellular and in vivo models, to gain novel understanding on the function and regulation of the immune system.

Group's website / Twitter

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.

PET Project

Principal Investigators

Merja Haaparanta-Solin Adjunct Professor,
Senior Researcher, Head of Preclinical Imaging,
Turku PET Centre
merja.haaparanta-solin [at]

Tove Grönroos, Adjunct Professor,
Senior Researcher, Manager of Preclinical Metabolic Research,
Turku PET Centre
tovgro [at]

Fracisco López-Picón, Senior Researcher and Manager of Preclinical Neuroscience Imaging
francisco.lopez [at]

Description of Research

The general goals of the Preclinical and translational research unit are a) to evaluate and develop new PET tracers, b) to be a bridge between basic and clinical research in all areas where the PET Centre is involved, c) to be a reference core facility for basic biomedical research, d) to collaborate with pharmaceutical companies in drug development, and e) to be an important training centre for techniques related to animal imaging.

The preclinical unit actively participates in the novel radiotracer development at the Turku PET Centre including tissue penetration, target validation and metabolite analysis in experimental animals, and metabolism in the first in man studies. We collaborate extensively with the Central Animal Laboratory (CAL), the Turku Centre for disease Models (TCDM), and Auria Biobank for our research with animal models and tissues.

The preclinical unit works in numerous research projects. Among these projects are specific preclinical and basic science projects, internal collaborations with the Radiopharmaceutical chemistry unit and clinicians from different units. In addition, we have many collaboration projects with local, national, and international academic and commercial partners.

Cardiac and metabolic research
Most preclinical (nonclinical) work is done using small animals (mice, rats) whose physiology is dissimilar to human and, therefore, also the translation of imaging is challenging. The aim is to develop and validate pig models for coronary heart disease and heart failure. This work is done jointly with teams in Osaka, Canada and Kuopio. These models enable the investigation of disease mechanisms at the cellular level parallel with testing and the validation of new tracers and imaging methods. 

The oncology group aims to improve diagnostic imaging by developing new PET tracers, evaluating their usage in different experimental settings and to translate and introduce research findings into the clinic. The research focuses on imaging the tumour microenvironment by targeting specific proteins and genes, or general processes that occurs in tumours and are important in treatment planning and therapy resistance. Proliferation, apoptosis, angiogenesis, oxygen metabolism, inflammatory response and oncogene expression is of central importance in development of novel biologically targeted agents and adaptive radiotherapy.

The preclinical research in neuroscience will continue the current work in neurodegeneration, and neuroinflammation, and will expand into new research in neuropsychiatry in collaboration with radiochemistry and clinicians. The focus will mainly be on the following topics:

1) Development of novel radiotracers for neuroscience will focus on the detection of tau tangles, neuroinflammation, norepinephrine transporter and synaptic function.

2) Identification of novel mechanism of disease in neurodegeneration, neuroinflammation and psychiatric diseases, and in the identification of novel targets for tracer development and drug targeting.

Pet Center's website / Twitter

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




Toppari Jorma: Insulin-Dependent Diabetes

Principal Investigator

Jorma Toppari
Professor, Institute of Biomedicine
jortop [at]

Description of Research

DIPP study has screened more than 200 000 newborns for genetic risk of T1D and about 17 000 children have participated in the follow-up that includes regular visits, interviews and collection of various kinds of biological samples until the age of 15 or diagnosis of T1D. The recruitment started in 1994 and is still continuing constituting a data and sample repository of dynamic birth cohort that includes a large number of children at different stages of the disease process.

DIPP study welcomes proposals for collaboration studies to facilitate the international research efforts aiming at identification of causes of T1D and developing prevention and better treatments for the disease. The collaboration studies can include various kinds of studies covering e.g. analyses of the clinical samples and/or the data collected in the DIPP study as well as clinical trials.

Group Members

Satu Ruohonen, Medical Laboratory Technologist

Minna Romo, Medical Laboratory Technologist

Zhian Othmani, Medical Laboratory Technologist 

Elina Mäntymäki, Medical Laboratory Technologist

Mari Vähä-Mäkilä, Senior Researcher

Marjaana Mäkinen, Doctoral Student

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

Group Leaders

Latest Pubications