Contact information

Sydän- ja keuhkokeskuksen tutkimusyksikkö
Biomedicum Helsinki 2C
Tukholmankatu 8C, P.O. box 705 00029 HUS 

Ilkka Ilonen

Ilkka Ilonen (MD, Ph.D, FEBTS); Attending cardiothoracic surgeon, specialized in general thoracic and oesophageal surgery. He received M.D. from Univ. of Helsinki in 2008 and Ph.D from Univ. of Helsinki in 2011 for studies in Lung Cancer. He was board certified CT surgeon in Dec 2016 and was appointed as an attending/consultant surgeon for Dept. of General Thoracic and Oesophageal Surgery of Heart and Lung Centre at Helsinki University Hospital. He completed Advanced Thoracic Surgical Oncology Fellowship in Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center between 2017-2018. His research interest include non-small cell lung cancer, mesothelioma and oesophageal cancer. He has also served as council member of European Association of Cardiothoracic Surgery (EACTS) between 2015-2017 and chair of Residents committee 2016-2017.

Docent Laura Mäkinen (MD, Ph.D)

Docent Laura K. Mäkinen (MD, Ph.D) is a specialist in otorhinolaryngology (2016) and now specializing in pulmonary medicine and allergology at the Heart and Lung Center, Helsinki University Hospital. Laura has completed her Ph.D. in 2015 for studies in oral tongue squamous cell carcinoma. After that Laura has expanded her research to several topics in the field of otorhinolaryngology, such as rhinosinusitis, tonsil surgery in children, and salivary gland diseases. Now Laura is focusing on lung cancer research in Happy Lungs research group, especially cell-free DNA and new potential biomarkers. 

Mari Ainola

Mari Ainola, MSc (biochemistry), PhD is a docent in molecular and cell biology. Her thesis project focused on osteaclast mediated bone degradation in rheumatoid arthritis. Her research in Happy Lungs group is dealing with cell-free DNA, especially ctDNA, as biopsy-free biomarker in thoracic cancer treatment and monitoring, such as early detection, diagnosis, clinical outcomes, treatment efficacy and drug resistance.

Juuso Paajanen (MD, Ph.D)

Juuso Paajanen (MD, Ph.D) is a specialist in pulmonary medicine and allergology. Juuso successfully defended his thesis on prognostic factors in malignant pleural mesothelioma and was granted a PhD in 2020 from University of Helsinki. In this study, a tight collaboration with the Helsinki Biobank has been formed.

Hely Ollila

Hely Ollila is a doctoral student studying tumour microenvironment and clinical prediction features in malignant pleural mesothelioma. Hely is studying medicine at the University of Tampere and doing her doctoral thesis at the University of Helsinki.

Kristian Borenius

Kristian Borenius is a medical student and he has been studying at the University of Helsinki since 2017. He also studies chemical engineering in Aalto University. At the moment he is doing his advanced studies on cell-free DNA in non-small cell lung cancer.

Mikko Räsänen

Mikko Räsänen (RN, paramedic) is a research nurse of Happy Lungs research group. In addition to handling some of the samples, he helps researchers by identifying and screening potential patients and by recruiting them to studies.

Tommi Järvinen

Tommi Järvinen (MD, Ph.D) is a resident in cardiothoracic surgery with a future specialization focus in general thoracic- and esophageal surgery. He recieved his MD in 2017 from University of Helsinki. He successfully defended his thesis on esophageal cancer and related nutritional deficits and was granted a Ph.D. in 2019 from University of Helsinki. His research interests are currently focused on esophageal cancer, cachexia and sarcopenia with translational medicine approaches.

Bassel Alsaed

Bassel Alsaed is a doctoral student at the University of Helsinki, HaikaLab, and supervised by Dr. Ilkka Ilonen and Dr. Heidi Haikala. Bassel is studying immunotherapy resistance in NSCLC patients carrying EGFR mutations. He is also developing the Solid-IO microfluidic platform to test for immunotherapy responses in lung cancer patients in a personalized manner.  


Bassel received his master’s degree in Translational Medicine from the University of Helsinki in 2022.  

Shadi Jansouz (MSc)

Shadi Jansouz (MSc) is a laboratory coordinator. She generates organoid cultures from biopsies and surgical samples including oesophageal, gastric, pancreatic and lung tumour samples. In Happy Lungs, her efforts are divided between, Pipsa Saharinen's and Hanna Seppänen's laboratories, in a collaborative project for developing personalized cancer treatments. 

She received her MSc in Medical biotechnologies in 2019 from the University of Siena in Italy and her master’s thesis handled the female reproductive system, profiling essential endometrial proteins involved in the infertility and low success rate of IVF.

Sandra Uoti

Sandra Uoti is a doctoral student studying the epidemiology and management of Zenker´s diverticulum. Her supervisors for the PhD project are Drs. Ilkka Ilonen, Saana Andersson and Ville Kytö. Sandra has been studying medicine at the University of Helsinki since 2017.

Ville Heistman (RN)

Ville Heistman is a research nurse in Happy Lungs research group. His work is divided between Happy Lungs and Hanna Seppänen's groups and it includes collecting informed consents, handling samples and the initial data collection.