Research

Cardiolipin molecules in the cytochrome bc1.

From biological viewpoint, the area of research in our team covers lipid membranes as well as a wide range of other biomolecular systems comprised of proteins, DNA, and sugars, and the interactions of these systems with biomolecular entities such as antibiotics and other drugs, antibodies, and alcohols. The research is coupled to both experiments and applications as our team collaborates with about 50 different experimental teams. The focus of research is on cross-disciplinary problems in the field where the traditional borderlines between physics, chemistry, and computational and medical sciences tend to vanish. The grand objective is to use computational simulations for considerations of phenomena that are relevant to health and disease.

From modeling point of view, we also develop and employ a variety of different techniques to allow studies of complex biomolecular systems over large scales in time and space. Consequently, one of our main objectives is to bridge nanoscale and macroscopic regimes in terms of multiscale modeling.

Toll-like receptor (TLR4).

 

Concerning larger reseach efforts, we are hosts to two 5-year FiDiPro (Finland Distinguished Professor Programme) projects that have been granted to Prof. Ralf Metzler (Potsdam), and Prof. Pavel Jungwirth (Prague). These projects bridge our team with the groups of Prof. Metzler and Prof. Jungwirth to aim for excellence in theoretical and computational research of biomolecular systems, emphasis being on the dynamics of systems comprised of proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, ions, and of course water. Importantly, the FiDiPro projects imply that our FiDiPro professors and their team members will spend extended periods of time at TUT collaborating with our team and supervising the numerous scientists working on the FiDiPro projects.

The group is a partner in the Center of Excellence for Biomembrane Research where the research focuses on understanding the consequences and function of dynamic lipid-protein interactions in particular in the context of actin. Our team focuses on simulations and theory and the experimental teams directed by Elina Ikonen and Pekka Lappalainen carry out outstanding experimental cell biology work.

Furthermore, we are strongly committed to studying lipid-protein interactions and the mechanisms of how lipids modulate protein function in crowded membranes. These are the essence of the ERC Advanced Grant project that was awarded to us by the European Research Council (2012-2017).

Moreover, we are an affiliate member of MEMPHYS-Center for Biomembrane Physics, which has been chosen as a Center of Excellence by the Danish National Research Foundation.

Further and more specific details of our research will be on these pages rather shortly. In the meantime, an overall perspective of our work can be found by considering the list of recent publications.