The group has expertise in pain, neurodegeneration and neuropharmacology, including both basic and clinical researchers.

You can find us at the Department of Pharmacology in the 2nd floor of Biomedicum Helsinki 1. If you are interested in joining or collaborating with us, feel free to contact us at

Pekka Rauhala

MD, PhD, Group leader, Professor

Pekka is Senior Lecturer in pharmacology at the Medicum and is also medical advisor for the Finnish Center for Integrity in Sports (FINCIS) since 2018. Rauhala worked also as part-time medical advisor for Orion Pharma 2000–2018. He performed his postdoctoral studies in 1994–1997 at the National Institute of Mental Health NIH, where he worked with Prof. C.C. Chiueh on neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease. His research has concentrated on oxidative stress and neurodegeneration, neuroprotection, the dopaminergic system, opioid pharmacology and tolerance.

Eija Kalso

MD, PhD, Group leader, Professor

Eija is professor of pain medicine since 2004. She performed her postdoctoral studies at the University of Oxford with Sir Keith Sykes (1983–1984, pulmonary physiology & pharmacokinetics of opioids) and with Prof. H. J. McQuay, Oxford and A. H. Dickenson, UCL, London (spinal mechanisms of opioid analgesia and tolerance 1990–1991), and 1997 (evidence-based medicine with Prof. McQuay). In 1999 she worked at the Karolinska Institute with Prof. Martin Ingvar (placebo & opioid analgesia using PET) and as a visiting professor in 2016-2018. 

Prof. Kalso has developed pain research in different fields: single and multi-centre clinical trials (acute, cancer and neuropathic pain) and evidence-based medicine, pharmacokinetics of opioids, basic pharmacology of opioids and α2-adrenergic agonists in different types of pain, imaging (PET, fMRI: opioid and placebo effects, effects of chronic pain on the brain), genetics of pain and inter-individual variation in response to pain therapies, the role of glial activation in opioid tolerance and neuropathic pain, development of electrochamical point-of – care assays for quantitative determination of analgesics in whole blood (with Aalto Uuniversity) and lately, the interactions between sleep, pain, and analgesics. 

She has published about 250 original articles and has 2 patents. She is the past president of the International Association for the Study of Pain and the co-ordinator of the EU-FP7 project GLORIA (Understanding chronic pain and new druggable targets: focus on glial-opioid receptor interface).

Tuomas Lilius

MD, PhD Postdoctoral Fellow

Tuomas received his PhD in 2014, at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki and has continued working on the group’s research projects.  His doctoral thesis concentrated on pharmacological treatments for augmenting opioid analgesia and preventing tolerance. He has worked as a resident physician in Helsinki University Central Hospital. He is currently postdoctoral fellow at Institute of Biomedicine, Pharmacology, University of Helsinki and assistant professor in the laboratory of Prof. Nedergaard in Center for Translational Neuromedicine in Denmark.

Hanna Viisanen-Kuopila

PhD,  Postdoctoral Fellow

Hanna received her PhD degree in 2012, at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki. Dr. Viisanen-Kuopila worked with Prof. A. Pertovaara in the Department of Physiology and studied role of pain modulatory pathways in chronic pain. She was a visiting scientist in the laboratory of Prof H.G. Schaible in the Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Germany during 2009-2010.

During her post-doctoral period in Department of Physiology, University of Helsinki (2012-2014) she studied the pathophysiology of peripheral diabetic neuropathy. She joined the group of Prof. E. Kalso and Dr. P. Rauhala in 2015.

Fredrik Ahlström

MD/PhD student

Fredrik is doing his doctoral thesis on neuropathic pain and opioid tolerance/hyperalgesia. 

Kim Blomqvis

DDS/PhD student

Kim Blomqvist is doing his doctoral thesis on pharmacology of opioids.


Viljami Jokinen


Viljami received his PhD in 2017, at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki. His doctoral thesis concentrated on pharmacological treatments for augmenting opioid analgesia and preventing tolerance.