PEDIA within Research Programs Unit

The Pediatric Diabetes Research Group (PEDIA) is within The Research Programs Unit in Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki.

The current Research Programs are the following (until the end of 2025): Applied Tumor Genomics (ATG), Clinical and Molecular Metabolism (CAMM), Human Microbiome Research (HUMI), Individual Drug Therapy (INDIVIDRUG), SLEEPWELL Research Program, Systems Oncology (ONCOSYS), Translational Cancer Medicine Program (CAN-PRO), Translational Immunology Program (TRIMM) and Stem Cells and Metabolism Research Program (STEMM). RPU director is Henna Tyynismaa. PEDIA, as a part of Clinical and Molecular Metabolism Research Program (CAMM) aims to understand the pathophysiology of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases and renew management of these diseases as well as test preventive strategies. Read more on the research programs unit website.


Principal Investigator

Mikael Knip, MD, PhD, is Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics and Research Director at the University of Helsinki. His research focuses on type 1 diabetes and other immune-mediated diseases in children and adolescents. He has published more than 600 original papers and over 170 other scientific articles. Dr. Knip has been one of Principal Investigators on the Finnish Diabetes Prediction and Prevention (DIPP) study from its start in 1994. He has also led the international TRIGR (Trial to Reduce IDDM in the Genetically at Risk) study testing the hypothesis that weaning to an extensively hydrolyzed formula will reduce the frequency of beta-cell autoimmunity and type 1 diabetes in children at risk. This trial was completed in 2017 and the outcome showed no preventive effect of the intervention. The result implies that conventional baby formula can be used in the feeding of risk babies, if sufficient volumes of breast milk are not available. TRIGR was mainly funded by NIH. The DIABIMMUNE study, funded by the EC 7th Framework Program for the period 2008–2014, set out to test the hygiene hypothesis in type 1 diabetes and other immune-mediated diseases. Recently Dr. Knip and his research group have elaborated an interest in the intestinal microbiota and its potential role in the development of type 1 diabetes and autoimmunity. In this context the interaction between the maternal microbiota and the developing microbiota in the infant at increased genetic risk for type 1 diabetes is a special area of interest. Dr. Knip led the Academy of Finland Center of Excellence on Molecular Systems Immunology and Physiology Research 2014–2017. He was the Director of the Diabetes and Obesity Research Program (DORP) at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki 2013–2018. He is or have been on the editorial board of a series of international journals, such as Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, European Journal of Endocrinology, Pediatric Diabetes and Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology. Dr. Knip has been on the Scientific Review Board of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) 2005–2008 and on the Research Council for Health, Academy of Finland 2007–2012.

Phone: +358 2941 25222

Mobile: +358 50 448 7722

ORCID: 0000-0003-0474-0033


Jarno Honkanen, PhD

Taina Härkönen, PhD, Docent, Senior Researcher, tel. +358 40 848 1061

Kristiina Luopajärvi, MD, PhD, Senior Researcher

Neea Mustonen, MD, PhD

Anna Parkkola, MD, PhD

Anna Parviainen, MD, Graduate Student

Petra Pöllänen, MD, PhD

Terhi Ruohtula, MSc, Graduate Student

Harri Salo, PhD, Postdoctoral researcher 

Kirsi Salonen, MD, PhD

John Sandström, Bachelor of Medicine B.M., Graduate student

Heli Siljander, MD, PhD, Docent

Antti-Mathias Taka, MD, Graduate Student

Maaret Turtinen, MD, Graduate Student

Outi Vaarala, MD, PhD, Professor

Arja Vuorela, MSc, Graduate Student 

Laboratory Services

Tel. +358 50 427 0898

Taina Härkönen, PhD, Head of the Laboratory
Iiris Ahonen, Bachelor of Laboratory Services, Laboratory Technician
Mevlida Kararic, Master of Health Care, Laboratory Technician        
Ilpo Lyytinen, Bachelor of Laboratory Services,  Laboratory Technician    
Sinikka Pietikäinen, Bachelor of Biomedical Laboratory Services, Laboratory Coordinator    


Sirpa Nolvi, RN, Coordinator,, tel. +358 50 427 0564
Marja Salonen, MSc, Project Coordinator, tel. +358 2941 25208

Research Nurses

Henni Haapala, RN, Study Nurse, tel. +358 50 556 0362
Maria Viinikka, RN, Study Nurse, tel. +358 50 472 8532