People

Researchers of the EV group and their publications and contact information.
Pia Siljander, Principal Investigator

Pia first discovered ”microparticles” during her PhD studies, while studying the role of collagen receptors in platelet functions including procoagulant activity. Platelet-derived EV staining of fibrin strands in thrombus-formation mimicking system of blood flow generated her first EV publication in 1996 . In 2000-2004, she did a post doc in the University of Cambridge U.K, on platelet collagen receptors. Upon returning to Finland, she worked as an Academy of Finland –funded independent post doctoral researcher and research fellow with the aim to develop tools for integrin affinity states with phage display before becoming a university lecturer in Biochemistry of Health in 2008. By then, the field of EVs had geared up, enabling a return to her passion. Soon also others joined in the quest to understand the communication of the cells’ own social media, EVs, which generated the EV group in 2011. 

In 2016, the EV group jointly with Dr. Maija Puhka in FIMM was proud to open the world’s first core facility dedicated to EVs to offer our expertise to other researchers in Finland and abroad.

Since 6 February 2024, Pia is the President of the Finnish Society of Extracellular Vesicles (FISEV).

Mari Palviainen, Visiting Researcher

Mari is currently a visiting researcher in the EV group and a supervisor of Johanna and Zeynep. Mari’s research focuses on the potential of platelet-derived EVs as natural therapeutics in regenerative medicine, and how activating platelets with various agonists affects the molecular cargo of platelet-derived EVs. Mari has a long track record in omics (proteomics and metabolomics) relevant  in many projects. For example, she is studying the potential metabolomic fingerprint of cancer EVs with Zeynep. From September 2021-2023, Mari worked in the PLEASER project studying the effect of cancer-EVs on platelets as a university researcher.

Katariina Maaninka, Postdoctoral Researcher

Katariina’s research focus in the Extracellular Vesicle Ecosystem (EVE) consortium is in discovering the diagnostic and therapeutic potential of EVs where she is developing the EV flow cytometry and other new EV analytics. EV group participates in the EURAMET EMPIR project METVES II with the goal to standardize concentration measurements of EVs for medical diagnoses, and for this, Katariina is developing standardized test samples in collaboration with the group of Dr Rienk Nieuwland in AMC, the Netherlands.  

Katariina is finalizing a study of platelet-derived EVs in the context of cardiovascular diseases, where platelet activators relevant to cardiovascular diseases are analysed regarding their impact on platelet-derived EV number and composition, and how such EVs might contribute to the disease development.

Umar Butt, Technical Assistant

Umar has a Master's degree in Biomedical Imaging. He is finalizing his doctoral thesis about cancer. He is interested in cancer and platelet interactions and works closely with Zeynep and Mari. Umar's interests lie in the delicate interplay between platelets and cancer cells and his work focuses on investigating the role of platelet EVs in cancer cells' functionality and the effect of cancer EVs on platelet functionality.

Johanna Puutio, Doctoral Researcher

Johanna is interested in the EV-mediated communication between platelets and other immune cells and studies the biophysical and therapeutic properties of platelet-derived EV (PEV) subpopulations. Johanna’s research focuses on tailoring PEV generation with different platelet activations and establishing new methods for physicochemical and functional characterization of PEVs at the subpopulation level. Johanna has previously set up a novel asymmetric flow field-flow fractionation method for subpopulation analyses in the EV Group and EV Core (master’s thesis) and during the EVE consortium.

Zeynep Tavukcuoglu, Doctoral Researcher

Zeynep received her Master’s degree on different exosomal miRNA signatures in Familial Mediterranean Fever (FMF) disease from Hacettepe University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Medical Biology, Turkey. 

Zeynep has been working in the PLEASER project since 2022. She is using RNA sequencing and different cell-based functional assays to investigate the interaction between cancer cells and platelets aided through EVs in a 3D melanoma model. Zeynep’s other project in the EV group was to apply metabolomics to discover the candidate biomarker molecules in cancer EVs within the EVE consortium

Snehadri Sinha, Doctoral Researcher

Snehadri has been interested in the field of EVs since his Master's studies. He did his Master's thesis in the EV group, investigating the effect of different lipoproteins on the formation of platelet-derived EVs. 

In his PhD work, Snehadri has been exploring the role of EVs in the microenvironment of bone tumour (osteosarcoma) in 2D and 3D settings. He divides his time between the EV group and the Oral cancer research group (PI: Tuula Salo) in the Meilahti campus. 

Zhilin Qiu, Doctoral Researcher

Zhilin received her master's degree in oncology from Harbin Medical University, China, focusing on the promotion role of circRNAs in thyroid cancer.

Rosabella Hartman, Technical Assistant

Rosabella has been working for EV-Core since 2019 and branched out into EV-group in the summer 2021, helping with several projects as a technical assistant.

Outside of her work in the EV-group, Rosabella studies physiology at the University of Helsinki and is working on her bachelors thesis on 'Extracellular vesicles as biomarkers in neurodegenerative diseases'. After that she will focus on her masters degree in neurophysiology while continuing to work with EVs at the EV-Core.

Helin Veskiväli, Technical Assistant

Helin has worked in the University of Helsinki since 2011 as a technical assistant, and joined the EV group in 2022.

She has a Master's degree in applied chemistry and biotechnology from Tallinn University of Technology. 

 

 

Associate Group Members

Maija Puhka, Associate group member

As an associate group member of the EV group, Maija explores the commercialization options for an innovative and scalable EV isolation method, FastEV, in a joint project with Pia which has funding from Business Finland TUTL and UH HiPOC grants (-2021) and belonged to Spark Finland. Maija is dedicated to help researchers to grab the potential of the fast-developing EV field with improved technologies. The HiPrep core, the functions of which Maija is heading at FIMM side, has the same focus.  

Maija also studies the EV contained (mi)RNA biomarkers for diabetic kidney disease and urological cancers at FIMM with Prof. Leif Groop, Adj. Prof. Vilja Pietiäinen and Prof. Antti Rannikko.

Alumni
  • Mari Palviainen, PhD, currently working at Daichii Sankyo
  • Jaana Kekkonen, PhD, currently working at HiPrep Core, FIMM
  • Alessandra de Sousa Faria, PhD
  • Annie Stendahl, BSc
  • Maria Aatonen, MSc, currently working at FinVector
  • Heikki Saari, PhD, currently working at Finnish Red Cross Blood Services
  • Sami Valkonen, PhD, currently working at FinVector
  • Kuan Kiat Chew, MSc
  • Maarit Neuvonen, PhD, currently working at Targovax Oy
  • Maarit Takatalo-Laine, PhD, currently working at Thermo Fischer
  • Elisa Lazaro Ibañez, PhD, currently working at Astra Zeneca
  • Saara Kauremaa, BSc, currently working at MobiDiag
  • Anna Lindelöf MSc, Currently working at Bio-Rad Laboratories
Visitors
  • Johannes Österreicher, MSc, Ludwig Boltzmann Institut, Austria, 2023
  • Nerea Lago Baameiro, MSc, Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria de Santiago (IDIS) Hospital Clínico Universitario de Santiago, 2021
  • Natalia Koralewska, PhD, Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, Polish Academy of Sciences, 2019
  • Jesus Gullon Sanz, BSc, 2018
  • Arturs Abols, PhD, Latvian Biomedical Research and Study Centre, 2016 
  • Manuel de Aledo Gonzales, BSc, 2016