At the University of Helsinki, we have a multidisciplinary crew. The group consists of computational scientists, biomedical scientists and a lab manager.
Jussi Taipale, PI

Professor Jussi Taipale got his Ph.D. from the University of Helsinki in 1996, and continued with postdoctoral work at the University of Helsinki and at Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD, USA). He has headed an independent research laboratory since 2003, focusing on systems biology of growth control and cancer. He currently holds professorships at University of Cambridge (as Herchel Smith Professor of Biochemistry), Karolinska Institutet (supported by a Distinguished Professor grant from the Swedish Research Council) and University of Helsinki, where he is also the vice director of the Finnish Center of Excellence in Tumor Genetics.

Petros Papadopoulos, Co-PI

I studied Biology (BSc) in the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece) and I got interested in the developmental expression of the human β-globin genes in the context of disease (Thalassemias). In 2002 I moved to the ErasmusMC (Rotterdam) to work on mouse models of the human β-globin locus and study the developmental silencing of the γ-globin gene. I got my PhD in 2009 from the Erasmus University and I continued to work on erythropoiesis and gene expression regulation until 2013 when I joined the department of Human Genetics at the KULeuven in Belgium. There I expanded my research interests in hematopoiesis studying the process of megakaryopoiesis in patients with myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) and specifically the Essential Thrombocythemia (ET). My current research focus is about the functional characterization of calreticulin (CALR) in the pathogenesis of MPN.

Fascinated by the diversity of transcription factors (tissue specific and general TFs) and their implication to the onset and progression of human disease I undertake the omics approach to study the gene expression regulation network that causes hyperactivation of the JAK-STAT pathway and leads to different MPN types (ET, PV, PMF) affecting either the erythroid or the megakaryocytic lineage.

As a researcher I am used to moving around constantly, something that I have deeply appreciated throughout my career. I like travelling and sports a lot. In my free time I like running and swimming and lately getting into the indoors climbing.


Daniela Ungureanu, Senior Scientist, Docent

My research interests focus on the molecular mechanisms associated with kinases signaling. Protein kinases play a key regulatory role in nearly every aspect of cell biology making protein phosphorylation the most exploited form of posttranslational modification. Protein phosphorylation can modulate enzyme activity and it can also alter other biological activities such as transcription and translation. Kinases, as well as pseudokinases, are often dysregulated in a variety of diseases, especially cancer. Beyond the basic question of how kinases/pseudokinases function in normal and pathogenic conditions, there is also a significant interest in developing approaches to inhibit them. However, the expected development of drug resistance for the majority of kinase-specific inhibitors in the treatment of neoplastic disorders requires new approaches to solve this therapeutic challenge. My focus is toward understanding of drug-resistance mechanisms and the development of new technologies such as PROTAC-chimeras for the therapeutic targeting of kinases/pseudokinases in cancer.

Norman Zielke, Senior Scientist

I am a molecular biologist using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster to analyze the down-stream targets of the Myc proto-oncogene. I am particularly interested in understanding how Myc drives growth and proliferation under normal and oncogenic conditions. Furthermore, I am keen on understanding why reduction of Myc levels prolongs the lifespan of flies. I am using CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene editing to mutate Myc binding sites in the promoter regions of conserved Myc-target genes. Cutting the regulatory nodes instead of targeting the gene itself allows to directly address the requirement of specific regulatory relationships without affecting basal expression levels that might be important for viability or other cellular processes.

Päivi Pihlajamaa, Senior Scientist

I am interested in the regulation of cellular processes by transcription factors, and especially, how aberrant transcriptional pathways promote tumorigenesis. My main project focuses on studying the transcriptional targets of the MYC oncogene and their role in regulating cell growth and proliferation.To this end, I am using modern experimental methods in mammalian cells, such as CRISPR/Cas9-based precision genome editing and genome-wide screening approaches, to study the functional relationship between transcription factor binding, gene expression, and cell proliferation.

Kimmo Palin, Senior Scientist

I am a senior staff scientist working in Taipale and Aaltonen groups in University of Helsinki. My research is Bioinformatics and Computational Biology from genetics and functional regulatory genomics perspective. I'm involved especially with genetic epidemiology and biobank research related projects and have special interest in functional genomics, gene regulation and functional understanding of non-coding genetic variation.

Otto Kauko, Post Doc

Growth signals are transmitted by diverse and redundant mechanisms. This redundancy is needed for tissue specific regulation of cell growth, but also makes it challenging to block growth signalling in cancer cells. Although signal transduction has been studied a lot, it is inadequately understood how the growth signal pathways interface with conserved processes of cell growth. My aim is to identify and characterize common dependencies of proliferating cancer cells. To achieve this, I am manipulating proliferation and pathway usage in different cancer cell types, and collecting data using phosphoproteomics, thermal proteome profiling, single-cell RNAseq, and targeted genome editing based dropout screens.

Maria Osmala, Post Doc

I am a bioinformatician and computational biologist. I apply and develop computational, statistical and machine learning methods to understand biological phenomena. My research interests include multi-omics high-throughput sequence data analysis, epigenetics, functional genomics, system's biology, non-coding regulatory elements, sequence determinants of regulatory elements, and cancer.

Siwei Zou, Post Doc

I joined the Taipale group as a Postdoctoral Researcher in Helsinki in May 2023. 

Myc is an important transcriptional factor closely related to cancer development and controls a massive transcriptional network. In our lab, several transcriptional targets of myc oncogene have been found to regulate cell growth and proliferation. So, my interest and work are to assess the role of MYC-target transcriptional regulation on cell fitness by Cas12a activation. I am also interested in fiber-seq, a single-molecule long-read sequencing method with the help of MTase to illustrate the structure of open chromatin. This will provide a very useful image of chromatin accessibility and help for TF regulation studies.

Yepeng Du, PhD student

I am a graduate student working on molecular mechanisms associated with cancer development. Tumorigenesis  is associated with infinite cell division due to imbalance between proliferation and apoptosis, which is caused by transcriptional disorder. My interests is to use gene editing tool CRISPR/Cas9 to study the regulatory function of transcription factor Myc that modulates the expression of approximate 10% of all genes, especially those that are related to cell growth and proliferation.

Zhijia Wang, Laboratory Manager

I'm a recent addition to the Taipale Lab, joining as a Lab Manager in June 2024.  My background includes a PhD in Biomedicine from the University of Helsinki, solidifying my knowledge in molecular biology.  In my role, I oversee daily lab operations, ensuring the smooth functioning of the lab through tasks such as instrument maintenance, supply ordering, invoice management, and assisting colleagues with experiments.

While dedicated to lab work, I also enjoy maintaining a healthy work-life balance.  In my personal time, I find enjoyment in physical activities like sports and exploring new locations.