Hellyeh Hamidi
Research interests: Integrin activity, cell adhesion, cancer, cell Migration
Best conference: EMBO "Cellular Signalling & Molecular Medicine", Croatia
Key to a happy day: A sweet treat. A good old-fashioned cup of tea. Great colleagues & great research.
Previous Role: Postdoc (University of Manchester, UK)

Mitro Miihkinen

Project title: A molecular model to filopodia assembly and disassembly
Research interests: Filopodia, cancer signalling, protein-protein/lipid interactions, cell membrane
Key to a happy day: A nice breakfast, a nice lunch doesn't hurt either. Or dinner. Oh yes, especially a dinner.
Education: MSc student, University of Turku, Biochemistry

Hussein Al Akhrass

Project title: Signalling extent regulation of receptor tyrosine kinases in HER2-driven breast cancer
Research interests:
Intracellular itinerary of membrane receptors, sorting proteins, cancer
Key to a happy day: Singing, don't forget who you are and where do you come from
PhD student (University of Limoges, France

PhD Students

Petra Laasola

Current Role: Day-to-day laboratory organisation and assisting in several research projects
Research skills: Molecular biology, immunoprecipitation, PLA, IHC & IF and FACS analysis
Key to a happy day: Happy people and humour makes a good day.

James Conway

Project title:   Regulation of integrin phosphorylation
Research interests: 
FRET biosensors and 3D models
Favourite tool in the lab:
Laminar hood and a well-calibrated pipette
Previous role:
PhD student (Prof. Paul Timpson, Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Australia)

Ilkka Paatero

Project title: In vivo imaging of cell migration
Research interests: Confocal imaging, live in vivo imaging, zebrafish, angiogenesis, signalling, migration
Key to a happy day: Plenty of coffee

Favourite tool in the lab: Confocal microscope
Previous Role: post-doctoral fellow, Markus Affolter lab, Biozentrum (University of Basel, Switzerland)

Johanna Lilja

Project title: Role of Shank family proteins in integrin activation
Research interests: Shank, integrin activation, sharpin, cell metabolism, tumour cell metastasis
Best conference: Gordon Research Conference
Key to a happy day: Sense of humour and chocolates
Previous Role: MSc Student (Prof. Johanna Ivaska, University of Turku)

Emilia Peuhu

Project title: Regulation of stemness and invasion in normal mammary gland and breast cancer
Research interests: Integrin, invasion, tumour microenvironment, ductal morphogenesis
Key to a happy day: Silly humour
Previous Role: Project researcher (Åbo Akademi University)

Siiri Salomaa

Project title: SHANK proteins in actin binding
Research interests: actin cytoskeleton, cell migration, cancer, SHANK, SHARPIN

Best conference: Actin in action Heidelberg, Germany
Key to a happy day: Breakfast and good coffee
Education: MSc (Åbo Akademi University, Biochemistry

Martina Lerche

Project title: Integrin regulation and trafficking in mechanosensing
Research interests: ECM, integrin, mechanotransduction, integrin trafficking
Key to a happy day: Great co-workers and good results
Education: MSc (Åbo Akademi University, Bioscience)

Jasmin Kaivola

Project title: Novel regulators of integrin signalling and cell mechanosensing in cancer

Research interests: cancer, cell migration, cell signalling and mechanotransduction​
Key to a happy day: Sweets and cake
Education: MSc in Biochemistry (University of Turku)


  • Camilo Guzmán - October 2018, next step: Facility manager (Nanophotonics) at the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory, Portugal
  • Maria Georgiadou - August 2018, next step: Senior Researcher at Orion Pharma, Finland
  • Mika Pietilä - until 2017, Next step: Astra Zeneca, Espoo, Finland
  • ​Anja Mai - until 2016, Next step: Researcher at BerGenBio, Bergen, Norway
  • Antti Arjonen - until 2015. Next step: Senior researcher at Misvik Biology Ltd, Turku, Finland
  • Ghaffar Muharram - until 2013. Next step: Scientist at University of Lille, Lille, France
  • Jeroen Pouwels - until 2013, Next step: group leader at Turku Centre for Biotechnology, Turku, Finland
  • Stefan Veltel, Next step: lecturer at University of Applied Sciences, Bremen, Germany

Postdoctoral Researchers

PhD students

  • Pranshu Sahgal (thesis defended 2018)
  • Jonna Alanko (thesis defended 2016)
  • Riina Kaukonen (thesis defended 2016)
  • Nicola De Franceschi (thesis defended 2016)
  • Reetta Virtakoivu (thesis defended 2015)
  • Gunilla Högnäs (thesis defended 2013)
  • Juha Rantala (thesis defended 2011)
  • Jonna Nevo (thesis defended 2011)
  • Karolina Vuoriluoto (thesis defended 2010)
  • Saara Tuomi (thesis defended 2010)
  • Teijo Pellinen (thesis defended 2009)
  • Elina Mattila (thesis defended 2009)

MSc students

  • Max Grönloh
  • Niklas Jäntti
  • Nuria Barber Perez
  • Rafael Saup
  • Maria Rafaeva

Johanna Ivaska - Academy Professor
Brief background: 
PhD in collagen-binding integrins (Turku, Finland); Postdoc at CR-UK, LIR with Prof. Peter J. Parker; Lab established in 2003 (VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland); Now Academy Professor and Professor of Molecular Cell Biology at University of Turku Centre for Biotechnology. For an interview with Johanna visit the
Journal of Cell Biology: People and ideas.    

Lab size:  10 postdocs, 8 PhD students, 2 technical personnel and 2 master students

Best conference: Fibronectin, integrins and related molecules Gordon Research Conference
Key to a happy day: when a member of my team approaches me with cool findings from their data!

Paulina Moreno Layseca

Project title: LIMA1 in Rab21-mediated integrin trafficking
Research interests: Rab21, integrins, endosomes, LIMA1, cancer

Best conference: GRC Signaling by Adhesion Receptors 2018, Biddeford, ME, USA
Key to a happy day: A dynamic work day, lively colleagues, music and a sweet afternoon snack!
Previous role: Postdoc (UKE Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany)

Guillaume Jacquemet

Project title: Targeting filopodia to block cancer cell invasion
Research interests: Cell invasion, actin cytoskeleton, myosin-X, integrins
Best conference: ACTIN-BASED MOTILITY From Molecules to Model Organisms, Stresa, Italy
Key to a happy day: Something interesting or exciting to do!
Previous Role: Postdoc (Prof. Martin Humphries Lab, University of Manchester, UK)

Group leader


Jaroslav Icha

Project title: Spatio-temporal coordination of integrin-mediated adhesion and endocytosis.
Research interests: Integrin trafficking, live-cell imaging

Best conference: Seeing is Believing, EMBL Heidelberg, Germany
Key to a happy day:  Nice data, free food and retweets
Previous Role: PhD student (Norden lab, MPI-CBG, Dresden, Germany)

Aleksi Isomursu

Project title: Mechanotransduction mechanisms in cancer
Research interests: Cancer, actin cytoskeleton, cell migration, ECM, mechanotransduction
Key to a happy day: Nice co-workers, a cup of coffee and an interesting project to tackle
Education: MSc in Cell and Molecular Biology
(University of Jyväskylä, Finland)

Elisa Närvä

Project title: Novel regulators of integrin activity and cell attachment
Research interests: Cell cycle, integrin activity, stem cell biology
Key to a happy day: Great workmates
Previous Role: Turku Centre for Biotechnology, Stem Cells (Prof. Riitta Lahesmaa, Turku University, Finland)

Technical staff

Jenni Siivonen

Current role: Day-to-day laboratory organisation and assisting in several research projects
Research skills: Cell culture, DNA & RNA purification, Western blotting, IF, recombinant protein production, qRT-PCR
Key to a happy day: Great co-workers & working environment!

Maria Taskinen

Project title: MASTL and cell adhesion
Research interests: Cancer, cell adhesion, actin cytoskeleton, cell cycle
Key to a happy day: Nice co-workers and a cup of coffee
Education: MSc in Biochemistry (University of Turku, Finland)

Aki Stubb
Project title: Stem Cell adhesome
Research interests: Stem cell biology, regulation of pluripotency, adhesion qualities of hPSCs
Key to a happy day: Funny jokes & nice atmosphere

Previous Role: MSc student (Prof. Riitta Lahesmaa, CBT,Turku)