Craniofacial development

Irma Thesleff research group

Irma Thesleff is Professor Emerita at BI.

The general aim of research in the Thesleff laboratory is to understand the mechanisms that regulate craniofacial development, in particular the formation, renewal, and regeneration of teeth. The focus is on signaling networks that mediate intercellular communication and regulate the patterns, numbers and shapes of teeth.

The main topic of research over the years has been the development of teeth and their renewal from dental stem cells. The laboratory has developed ex vivo organ culture methods for studies on the roles of signaling molecules on tooth development as well as in vivo mouse models which elucidate the functions of individual genes in development and regeneration, and serve as models for human congenital defects.

The work has elucidated the genetic basis of congenital dental defects, and increased the understanding of the pathogenesis of human syndromes such as ectodermal dysplasia, cleidocranial dysplasia, and tooth agenesis.

Visions: Our work on the molecular regulation of tooth formation and the pathogenesis and genetic basis of dental defects may lead to possibilities to prevent and treat congenital defects in the future.

Our work on the characteristics of dental stem and progenitor cells and the mechanisms that regulate their development to functional teeth may form the basis for tooth regeneration in the future.


Irma Thesleff, Academician of Science
Professor Emerita
Institute of Biotechnology, HiLIFE

Biocenter 2,
P.O.Box 56 (Viikinkaari 5D)
00014 University of Helsinki


Irma is Professor Emerita at BI. She received the honorary title of Academician of Science in 2014.