Medical Nutrition Physiology Group is a happy bunch of researchers with varying educational backgrounds from nutritionists, biochemists, microbiologists, pharmacologists, and other medical scientists.

Our group aims to maintain a positive working environment where help and support are always available. You can find us at the Pharmacology Department on the 2nd floor of Biomedicum 1. If you are interested joining or collaborating with us, feel free to contact us at


Riitta Korpela

Professor emerita, PhD, Research director

Riitta's main research interest is on intestinal health but also in the effects of diet on vascular responses. She has supervised 24 PhD and 35 MSc theses. Her publication record includes over 300 scientific articles, over 60 popular articles, and 7 patents. Her Hirsch-index is 62. Her portfolio includes several national and international positions of trust. She is the Honorary President of the Finnish Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism. In 2017, she was nominated a Member of Academy of Science and Letters.

Heikki Vapaatalo

Professor emeritus, MD, PhD

Heikki took his first steps in Pharmacology in 1962 during his MD curriculum and had his post-doc training mainly in Germany and imported cyclic nucleotides and prostaglandins as mediators to pharmacological research in Finland. During his academic career, his interests have varied from the role of autonomic nervous system in experimental hypertension to inflammation generally and further to inflammation in vascular endothelium and intestinal epithelium. Eicosanoids, cyclic nucleotides, nutritional bioactive peptides, renin-angiotensin system, and bradykinin are the key words. Heikki has authored over 600 scientific and popular articles and supervised or co-supervised over 60 PhD theses.

” All the tubes in the body are regulated locally in similar manner, in addition to nerves and circulating transmitters, by products of endothelium or epithelium.” 

Veera Kainulainen

PhD, Postdoctoral researcher

Veera's research focuses on host-microbe interactions, especially the adhesion mechanisms of intestinal bacteria and interactions of commensal bacteria with the epithelium i.e., effects of bacteria to epithelial barrier function and their anti-inflammatory potential.

Hanna Launonen

MSc, Doctoral researcher

Hanna started her research career in our group by doing her Bachelor of Engineering thesis on the effects of cytotoxic chemotherapy on the intestinal tight junction proteins and then MSc in Translational medicine thesis and is now finishing her PhD thesis on the intestinal RAAS-system and intestinal permeability. 

Zan Pang

MSc, Doctoral researcher

Pang has an MSc degree from China and Italy and is now running preclinical studies to achieve the PhD degree in University of Helsinki. His topic is the local aldosterone synthesis in the gut.

Lotta Luiskari

MSc, Doctoral researcher

Lotta has a background in molecular biosciences and human nutrition. Currently, she is investigating how dietary fat quality, nutritional ketosis, and ketone bodies influence intestinal inflammation and permeability in preclinical models. In addition, she is studying how exogenous ketones influence food behavior.

Lauri Varmavuori

MD, Doctoral researcher

Lauri is a physician investigating the local production of renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system components in the intestine and the effect of ageing on those.

Jyri Toivio

Medical student

Jyri is a medical student from the University of Eastern Finland interested in nutrition and intestinal physiology. He has experience in preclinical models of intestinal diseases. As of summer 2023, he has been pursuing his advanced studies looking at the impact of the ketone body beta-hydroxybutyrate on intestinal inflammation. In addition to the medical degree, his goal is to continue research further and complete a doctoral degree.

Group alumni support our teams

Aino Siltari PhD, Postdoctoral researcher

Aino defended her doctoral thesis on antihypertensive tripeptides in 2018 after which she spent seven months as a postdoctoral researcher in the Medical University of Innsbruck. Currently, she is working in Prof. Murtola’s research group in the University of Tampere. However, she is also a teacher and supervisor at pharmacology unit in Helsinki, e.g., a co-supervisor of Hanna Launonen’s thesis.

Hanne Salmenkari, PhD, Postdoctoral researcher

Hanne defended her thesis on RAS in intestinal inflammation in 2019 and is now a postdoctoral researcher at the Folkhälsan Research Center in Helsinki studying the effects of gut inflammation and gut microbial products on renal inflammation and injury, particularly in a setting of diabetes, in the Finnish Diabetic Nephropathy group, FinnDiane. She is co-supervising Lotta Luiskari’s thesis.