Molecular Systems Biology research group members.
Markku Varjosalo, PhD, Docent, Research Director

Markku Varjosalo completed his Ph.D. in 2008 (Medical Systems Biology) in the laboratory of Professor Jussi Taipale. After this he continued his scientific career as a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow in the research group of Professor Ruedi Aebersold in ETH Zurich, Switzerland. He has a strong background in genomics and proteomics.

Salla Keskitalo, PhD

Salla Keskitalo studied biotechnology in University of Kuopio and Medicinal and Industrial Pharmaceutical Sciences in ETH Zurich, Switzerland. Her research activities span from cancer biology to Alzheimer's disease. Currently she focuses on analyzing cellular signaling changes on a proteome level, concentrating on analyzing how the cellular informational flow is transmitted from the cell surface to the nucleus.

Saara Laulumaa, PhD

Saara Laulumaa completed her PhD from University of Oulu, Finland, in 2016. For her thesis she studied structure and dynamics of myelin protein P2 and myelin mimicking membranes in the laboratory of Professor Petri Kursula. She joined Professor Jette Kastrup’s group in University of Copenhagen, Denmark, as a post-doctoral researcher, working with drug design for ligand-binding domains of ionotropic glutamate receptors in 2016-2019. Saara has expertise in protein expression and purification, protein crystallography and biomolecule dynamics using neutron scattering. Saara joined Varjosalo lab in 2019.


Yih Tyng (Rita) Bong, D.V.M., M.C.M., PhD

Yih Tyng (Rita) Bong studied Veterinary Medicine at National Pingtung University of Technology and Science in Taiwan, followed by a master's in Conservation Medicine at Tufts University, USA. She completed her Ph.D. in Integrative Pathobiology at the University of California, Davis, USA in 2021, focusing on environmental toxicopathology of microcystin and its effect on animals. She joined the Varjosalo lab in Finland in 2021 as a postdoctoral researcher, developing a proficiency in proteomics and data analysis using R. Her current project investigates the global interactome of uterine leiomyoma with MED12 G44D mutation, aiming to enhance our understanding of tumorigenesis and identify potential treatment alternative through drug repurposing.

Xiaonan Liu, PhD

Xiaonan Liu studied Biochemical Engineering in Fuzhou University, China and continued his Master of Science in bioinformatics in Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. His graduate project focuses on (de)phosphorylation regulation of Hedgehog signaling pathway.

Lisa Gawriyski, MSc

Lisa Gawriyski studied Bioinformatics at the University of Helsinki. She has an interest in both computational and biochemical work. Her graduate project focuses on preimplantation development and multiomics exploration of some of the factors engaged in Embryonic Genome Activation.

Matias Kinnunen, MSc

Matias Kinnunen, studied biochemistry in the University of Helsinki. Grew an interest in systems biology and transcription factors during master's studies. Jumped into proteomics after graduation as the opportunity presented itself as a transcription factor related systems biology PhD project. Current interests lie in the interactome of transcription factors and transcription factor related fusions found in cancer. Outside work enjoys drawing and the occasional exercise.

Kari Salokas, MSc

Kari Salokas studied cell- and molecular biology in University of Jyväskylä. After working in multiple research groups in the field of cell biology and bioinformatics as an undergraduate, he developed an interest in proteomics and more extensive datasets. His graduate project is focused on interactions of human kinase oncofusions, and their interactions in a cellular environment.

Sini Huuskonen MSc

Sini Huuskonen studied Biochemistry in University of Turku. During her time in Turku, Sini worked in various research groups, researching from integrin interactions in cancer to kinase functions in the depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. She is most interested in proteomics and protein-protein interactions. Sini joined the Varjosalo lab during the 2020 Sars-Cov-2 pandemic, and now is researching the Covid-19 virus-protein interactions.

Iftekhar Chowdhury , MSc

Iftekhar Chowdhury studied Biotechnology at the University of Helsinki. He has worked in several research groups researching extracellular vesicles, cancer genetics, epigenetics and gene therapy. He has acquainted himself with advanced cell biology, molecular biology, biochemical, immunohistochemical techniques and in vivo research (FELASA accredited). He developed an avid interest in proteomics. His graduate project aims to elucidate the human kinome protein interaction network for a global understanding of the human kinome signalling system and their cancer mutations. As an extra-curricular activity, Iftekhar enjoys working as a freelancing actor for international drama series and advertisement agencies.

Antti Tuhkala, B.Ls

Antti studied laboratory sciences in Metropolia UAS.

Tanja Turunen

Tanja is currently working on her B.Ls thesis on TimsTOF sample preparation protocol. Tanja will graduate from Metropolia UAS during summer 2022. 

Tiina Öhman, PhD, Docent

Tiina Öhman completed her PhD in 2006 in the laboratory of Professor Gahmberg in University of Helsinki. After this she worked as a post-doc in the protein chemistry laboratory at Institute of Biotechnology 2007-2015. She is specialized in modern mass spectrometry-based proteomic techniques, particularly quantitative proteomics and PTM analysis.

Sini Miettinen, B.Ls

Sini Miettinen has been working in a molecular biology laboratory for over 15 years, and is familiar with several molecular biology techniques including cell culture, protein purification, DNA, RNA and protein gel analysis, PRC, qPCR, and DNA quantification techniques (cloning, transformation, transfection, cross linking, genotyping, making competent cells, staining of mouse embryos and tails, dehydration of mouse embryos). In addition Sini has worked with Illumina Next Gen sequencing instruments and automated liquid handling, and maintained several laboratory instruments. At the moment Sini is taking care of the Core Unit and mass spectrometers in the lab.

Helka Göös, PhD

Helka Göös studied biochemistry in University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio. During her undergraduate studies she developed interest in protein chemistry and therefore decided to continue as a graduate student in the field of systems biology of the human transcription factor protein interactions.

Elina Niemelä, PhD

Elina Niemelä did her PhD in biochemistry at the Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki studying mRNA splicing and stability. Subsequenctly she has worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the Faculty of Medicine focusing on transcription regulation, epigenetics and metabolism, and has recently joined the Varjosalo lab to study protein kinases and their cancer-related mutations.

Antti Nykänen

Antti Nykänen studied biochemistry at University of York, UK, and University of Helsinki.  Previous experience comes from biomedical research, mainly cancer biology, using biochemical and cell biology methods as well as animal models such as mice and Xenopus. He is now familiarizing himself with proteomic analysis using mass spectrometry, and systems biology in general. Other interests in science include epigenetics and weird RNAs.   

Jaakko Teppo, PhD (Pharm)

Jaakko Teppo carried out his graduate project, focusing on the application of proteomics to preclinical drug discovery and development, in a collaboration between the Faculty of Pharmacy and the Institute of Biotechnology. Besides drug discovery and development, his research interests include single cell proteomics and multiomics integration.

Leena Yadav, PhD

Leena Yadav completed Masters of Science in Zoology (cell-biology as specialization) from University of Delhi, India. Her graduate project focuses on protein phosphatase associated molecular networks that are based protein protein interactions .

Rigbe Weldatsadik, MSc

Rigbe Weldatsadik studied Information Systems as an undergraduate at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. She then completed her masters in Bioinformatics at Aalto University, Finland. Her graduate project focuses on the application of Pooled sequencing in variation detection and protein database creation in beta hemolytic streptococci.