Hellyeh Hamidi
Current role: Research support coordinator
Research interests: Integrin activity, cell adhesion, cancer, cell Migration
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)

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)


  • Jaroslav Icha - October 2019; next step: Application Specialist, Promega, Prague, Czechia
  • Emilia Peuhu - August 2019; next step: Principal Investigator, Peuhu lab, Institute of Biomedicine, University of Turku, Finland!
  • Guillaume Jacquemet - August 2019; next step: Principal Investigator, Cell Migration Lab, Åbo Akademi University, Finland!
  • Ilkka Paatero - August 2019; next step: Head of Zebrafish Facility, Turku Bioscience Centre, 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: Medical Advisor, 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 Bioscience Centre, Turku, Finland
  • Stefan Veltel - next step: lecturer at University of Applied Sciences, Bremen, Germany

Postdoctoral Researchers

Technical staff

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

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)

Gautier Follain
Project title:  Deciphering the role of filopodia during pancreatic cancer cell dissemination
Previous Role: PhD student (Goetz lab, Strasbourg, FR)

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)

Jenni Siivonen

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!

PhD students

  • Aki Stubb (thesis defended 2019) - soon to be postdoc, Ewa Paluch lab, University of Cambridge, UK
  • Pranshu Sahgal (thesis defended 2018) - now postdoc in the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, US
  • Jonna Alanko (thesis defended 2016) - now postdoc in the Michael Sixt lab, IST, Austria
  • Riina Kaukonen (thesis defended 2016) - now postdoc in Turku Bioscience Centre
  • Nicola De Franceschi (thesis defended 2016) - next step: postdoc in Institute Curie, FR
  • Reetta Virtakoivu (thesis defended 2015) - now postdoc in Institute of Biomedicine, FI
  • Antti Arjonen (thesis defended 2013)
  • Gunilla Högnäs (thesis defended 2013) - now postdoc University of Tampere, FI
  • Anja Mai (thesis defended 2011)
  • Juha Rantala (thesis defended 2011) - now CEO at Misvik Biology and Principal Investigator at the University of Sheffield, UK
  • Jonna Nevo (thesis defended 2011) - now MD, Oncologist
  • Karolina Vuoriluoto (thesis defended 2010) - now Drug Safety Specialist, Orion Corporation
  • Saara Tuomi (thesis defended 2010) - Next step: Postdoc at the Danish Cancer Society
  • Teijo Pellinen (thesis defended 2009) - now Senior Researcher at Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM), Helsinki, Finland
  • Elina Mattila (thesis defended 2009) - now Senior Scientist at Orion Pharma, Finland

MSc students

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


Niklas Jäntti

Project title: Integrin adhesion, cytoskeletal dynamics and receptor trafficking in cancer

Research interests: cancer, metastasis, cell adhesion, receptor traffic, actin cytoskeleton
Key to a happy day: Friends, food and hobbies!
Education: MSc (Åbo Akademi University)

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)

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

PhD Students

Petra Laasola

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 (Timpson lab, Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Australia)

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)

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

Johanna Lilja

Project title: Role of SHANKs in cancer
Research interests: Cancer cell migration and invasion, tumor microenvironment, RAS signalling
Best conference: Gordon Research Conference
Key to a happy day: Sense of humour, coffee, great colleagues (with coffee and a sense of humour).
Previous Role: MSc Student (Prof. Johanna Ivaska, University of Turku)

Johanna Ivaska - The Boss
Brief background (Link to CV): Johanna Ivaska is a Professor of Molecular Cell Biology at the University of Turku in Finland. After obtaining her PhD at the University of Turku and following a post-doc in the laboratory of Peter Parker in CR-UK London Research Institute, she started her own group at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. In 2013, she joined the University of Turku Bioscience Centre where she currently leads a group of 16 young researchers in the “Cell Adhesion and Cancer” group. In 2015, she was awarded the highly prestigious national research professorship from the Academy of Finland. Her primary research relates to the biological role of integrins in cancer progression and, in particular, integrin-mediated cell adhesion and migration, cell-matrix interactions and mechanosensing, and the molecular mechanisms governing endosomal traffic of integrins and growth factor receptors in cancer. She is recognized as a leader in her field with numerous commissions of trusts including editorial duties in leading scientific journals, organization of international conferences and as a member of scientific advisory boards. She is regularly invited to speak globally at internationally recognised conferences (Gordon Conferences, EMBO meetings, ASCB) and institutes (MIT, Mount Sinai New York, Cancer Research UK, Institute Curie, Institute Pasteur, UCL, King’s College, IFOM Milan, IBEC Barcelona, MPI Cologne and University of Geneva). In addition to reviewing for the European Research Council, Johanna has also been a recipient of major research grants including an ERC Stg, an ERC CoG and 3 x ERC PoC grants. She has also been a member of the LS3 CoG panel. Johanna’s contributions to research have been recognised through elected memberships to EMBO and to the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters. In 2011, she was awarded the Anders Jahre Prize and, in 2017, the Orion pharma research prize and the A.I. Virtanen medal for internationally recognized excellence in biomedical research.

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!