Stem cells and aging

Pekka Katajisto research group

Our body is constantly repaired and renewed by tissue-specific stem cells (aka. adult stem cells). In order to secure tissue homeostasis, generation of new stem cells via self-renewal and their differentiation into functional cells must be carefully balanced. As we age, the capacity of stem cells declines.

Our laboratory studies both stem cell-intrinsic and extrinsic mechanisms altering tissue renewal capacity, and how such mechanisms ultimately result in the functional decline we recognize as aging.

Our main focus areas are: 

  • Asymmetric cell division: we develop methods to analyze whether stem cells apportion their organelles qualitatively and selectively upon asymmetric divisions and how this impacts the function of tissue stem cells, tissue repair, and longevity.
  • Cellular metabolism and cell fate: we ask whether certain metabolic features themselves can initiate and maintain stemness and how external cues, such as nutrition, can change stem cell metabolism and thereby influence stem cell function.
  • Impact of the stem cell niche on aging: we study the communication between stem cells and their niche (e.g. neighbor cells, ECM) in multiple tissues including the intestine, mammary, skeletal muscle, and the hematopoietic system.

Pekka Katajisto, PhD, Professor
Director, Centre of Excellence in Stem Cell Metabolism
Institute of Biotechnology, HiLIFE & Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences  

Biocenter 2, room 3018
P.O. Box 56 (Viikinkaari 5D)
00014 University of Helsinki

Office: +358 40 7085349

Pekka is a Principal Investigator/Group Leader at BI and Professor of Aging Biology at HiLIFE and Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences. He is the Director of the Center of Excellence in Stem Cell Metabolism (2018-2025) at the University of Helsinki. He also holds a position in Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, where he has a laboratory in the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology. Pekka was granted an ERC Starting Grant in 2015 and Consolidator Grant in 2022.