Contact information

Director of the CoE

Lauri Aaltonen,
MD, PhD, Academy Professor

Haartmaninkatu 8 (PO Box 63)
00014 University of Helsinki

Phone: +358 2941 25595
E-mail: lauri.aaltonen (at)

Vice Director of the CoE

Jussi Taipale
E-mail: jussi.taipale (at)

Other members of the CoE

Sampsa Hautaniemi
E-mail: sampsa.hautaniemi (at)

Veli Mäkinen
E-mail: veli.makinen (at)

Eero Pukkala
E-mail: eero.pukkala (at)

Administrative coordinator
Tiia Pelkonen
E-mail: tiia.pelkonen (at)


Co-operators and affiliations

Academy of Finland logo

Cancer registry logo

University of Helsinki logo

karolinska institute logo


CoE in Cancer Genetics Research

CoE flowchart

Cancer is a disease involving two unique genomes – germline, and that of the respective tumor. This setting represents a key challenge for medical research, deeply involving multiple disciplines. We and others have made seminal discoveries in identification of major human cancer genes, thus increasing our understanding on the basic concepts of malignant growth. The rapid advances in genomic technologies are now enabling full genome analysis of individuals and cancers. This will finally allow complete dissection of germline and somatic genetic variation contributing to neoplasia. Genetics of cancer is a key field of medical research, in which Finland and this consortium have excellent traditions at the highest international level.

The Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Cancer Genetics, funded by the Academy of Finland for 2012-2017, will take advantage of the powerful synergistic combination of advancing technologies, unique national materials, and sophisticated data analyses to create and validate disease models.

Research groups

The Center of Excellence consist of the Pukkala group, which represents the Cancer Registry and expertise in epidemiology; Aaltonen group, known for excellence in cancer genetics; Hautaniemi group, which has key knowledge on bioinformatics and systems biology; Taipale group, which provides strength in regulatory genomics, modelling, and high-throughput screening; and Mäkinen group, which brings ability for innovative sequence analysis and algorithmic problem solving.

Aims of the CoE

1) To upgrade the Finnish Cancer Registry database to a powerhouse for analysis of clustering of cancer, and source of validation materials.

2) To unravel the genetic components of human cancer susceptibility – including polygenic inheritance – on all levels of penetrance. To unravel the genetic changes underlying somatic tumor initiation and progression, in colorectal cancer and uterine leiomyoma.

3) To create a novel and efficient data analysis and mining environment, where the methods are developed or applied by the CoECG partners, for processing large-scale data generated within this CoECG and elsewhere.

4) To develop and utilize systems biology approaches to model the effect of the identified variants, and to identify the most promising candidates for molecular and clinical validation.

5) To translate the molecular findings into clinical benefits, such as novel approaches in risk prediction, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

COECG members