Group members

Members of Oncogenomics lab
Outi Monni

Principal Investigator, PhD

PhD and Docent (Cancer Genetics), University of Helsinki

Principal Investigator, Applied Tumor Genomics Research Program

Director, Biomedicum Functional Genomics Unit (FuGU)

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Piia-Riitta Karhemo

Research coordinator, PhD

During my postdoctoral research, I have established patient-derived three-dimensional ex vivo models (PDE), which represent the cell types present in the original head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC). PDE are used for drug testing, biomarker validation and molecular cancer studies. I am especially interested in the drug resistance and phenotypic plasticity of tumor cells.  More recently, I have applied the PDE to study gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST), which is a rare mesenchymal tumor with limited availability of preclinical models. Lack of proper models hampers the development of effective therapy, particularly for tyrosine kinase inhibitor resistant GIST, and thus novel pre-clinical models are in great need.

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Henna Pehkonen

Post-doctoral fellow, PhD

I am studying PPFIA1 and ANO1 genes, encoding for liprin-α1 and anoctamin-1 proteins. These genes are located at the 11q13 region of the genome, which is commonly amplified in different cancers such as in head and neck cancer and breast cancer and is related to poor prognosis of the patients. I am exploring how liprin-α1 and anoctamin-1 proteins contribute to cancer progression and oncogenic signalling. Recently, I have focused on setting up tumor models to study a new biologically directed radiotherapy boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT) in head and neck cancer.

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Artemis Filippou

PhD student, MSc

Focus of my studies is to investigate the involvement of promising molecular markers for drug response to epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and PI3K/mTOR inhibitors, mainly in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Of particular interest is to study further the effect of ANO1 expression on resistance to EGFR-targeted therapy in patient-derived HNSCC cells and three-dimensional models. Additionally, I aim to understand the underlying mechanism of ANO1, as a cellular signalling activator and proliferation promoter. Goal is to provide molecular markers for prediction of drug response, as well as more efficient treatment for HNSCC.

Iida Lindfors

Master's student

I am a Master’s student in the Genetics and Molecular Biosciences -Master’s programme at the University of Helsinki. My research project focuses on characterizing the mutational status and expression of certain marker proteins in clinical gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) samples and their three-dimensional ex vivo cultures. This gives valuable information about the suitability of the ex vivo cultures as pre-clinical tumor models for testing of novel drugs and studying the drug resistance mechanisms.

Arina Värä

Master's student

I am a Master’s Degree student in the Translational Medicine program of the University of Helsinki. My research project focuses on the pre-clinical investigation of therapeutic effectiveness of boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT) in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Pre-clinical study of BNCT as an efficient cancer therapy is carried out together with our BNCT research and clinical collaborators.

Marika Kuisma

Biomedical laboratory scientist, BSc (on maternity leave)

I am involved in the iCAN-RARE project, in which we aim to discover novel cancer treatments for rare cancers, for example, the gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) by molecular profiling and by developing ex vivo tumor models. I have experience in molecular biology techniques, such as nucleic acid extractions, Real-Time PCR, NGS library preps and sequencing. Most recently, I have been focusing on the histological sample processing. I enjoy learning and developing new techniques. 

Juho Väänänen

Bioinformatician (FuGU), MSc

Working as a computational biologist I'm tasked with managing and analyzing the genomics data produced at Biomedicum Functional Genomics Unit (FuGU). A part of that I advice our users in experiment design of the projects. I'm also responsible in maintaining FuGU's hardware and required software and I take part on the bioinformatics teaching on the campus.

Hanna Verkasalo

Lab manager, NGS Services (FuGU), Senior lab technician

My work in FuGU contain next-generation sequencing and microarray related laboratory tasks like quality control measurements and preparation of libraries using Illumina NextSeq and MiSeq equipment and a number of different sequencing library preparation protocols. I have long experience in NGS and I am always keen on expanding my expertise to novel applications related to NGS and other genomics technologies.

Anne Mäkelä

Laboratory Coordinator / Genome Profiling (FuGU), MSc

I am the lab coordinator for the Biomedicum Functional Genomics Unit (FuGU) which provides Illumina-based Next Generation Sequencing and other genomics analysis tools for the scientific academic community in Helsinki and beyond. I am responsible for planning, managing and coordinating projects. In addition, I have long experience in Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Developmental Biology and Cancer Biology.