Members of group Verschuren

Emmy Verschuren

Principal Investigator

Emmy Verschuren received her PhD in tumour biology from UCL in 2003, following graduate studies with Nic Jones at the ICRF/CRUK in London, and Gerard Evan at UCSF in San Francisco. In 2003, she was awarded a Damon Runyon Fellowship for a postdoc with Peter Jackson at Stanford University to study cell cycle control. In 2006, the group moved to Genentech Inc., where she continued her postdoc. Emmy became a FIMM-EMBL Group Leader in 2009. From 2011-2016, she acted as the Academic Coordinator of the public-private IMI-PREDECT consortium, and she serves on the European Association of Cancer Research (EACR) Board since 2012. Emmy was appointed as FIMM’s Strategic Research Coordinator in autumn 2018, while continuing her scientific position as a FIMM Group Leader. She loves to visit their countryside ‘mökki’ (cottage), play ‘sulkapallo’ (badminton), or hike in the Finnish ‘suo’ (swampland).

Email: emmy.verschuren(at)

Iris Lähdeniemi

Postdoctoral Researcher

Iris Lähdeniemi received her B.Sc. and M.Sc. from Åbo Akademi University with a major in cell biology. Iris finished her PhD from Diana Toivola’s group at Åbo Akademi University with the title “The role of keratins in proliferation, differentiation and hypoxia signalling in colonic epithelia” in 2018. In 2019, she started a postdoc in Emmy Verschuren's group where she investigates non-small cell lung cancer with a special interest in tumour metastasis, signalling and treatment. Iris is also interested in translational aspects, including the optimisation of novel methodologies for diagnostics and treatment. During her free time, Iris likes to spend time with her family and friends. 

Email: iris.lahdeniemi(at)

Jie Bao

FIMM-EMBL Doctoral student

Jie Bao is a FIMM-EMBL PhD student under the joint supervision of Emmy Verschuren and Peter Horvath. Jie obtained her BSc in Biomedicine from Royal Holloway, University of London, and her MSc in Clinical Neuroscience from University College London. She also gained cancer research experience at the University of Leuven in Belgium. For her doctoral thesis project, Jie creates and applies spatial tissue phenotyping methods to understand lung cancer heterogeneity.

Email: jie.bao(at)

Nora Linnavirta

Laboratory technician

Nora has been working as a laboratory technician in Emmy Verschuren's and Tero Aittokallio's groups since 2019. She graduated as a biomedical laboratory scientist in 2018, and before joining FIMM, she worked in the Children's and Women's hospital and Anticoagulation laboratories (HUSLAB). Nora did her Bachelor's thesis and practical training in Pirta Hotulainen's lab (Minerva) where she found the world of research. At FIMM, she has learned different techniques including cell culture, genotyping, IHC and tissue preparation, drug screening and CRISPR editing. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with family, friends and with her active Nova Scotian Duck Tolling Retriever. 

Email: nora.linnavirta(at)

Sarang Talwelkar

FIMM-EMBL Doctoral student

Sarang Talwelkar received his MSc degree in Biotechnology from the SGB Amravati University, India. Sarang is now a FIMM-EMBL PhD student in the Integrative Life Science doctoral program of the University of Helsinki. He explores the functional heterogeneity of lung cancer under the joint supervision of Emmy Verschuren and Krister Wennerberg. By utilising primary cancer cells derived from murine and clinical NSCLC tumours for pharmacogenomic testing, he aims to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying drug sensitivity and resistance. He is specifically interested in development of  models and technologies for personalised functional diagnostics. Ultimately, the goal of his PhD is to identify non-toxic treatments that could be translated to the clinic. Besides science, Sarang enjoys cooking for family/friends and watching cricket games or movies.

Email: sarang.talwelkar(at)

Elissar Al Kazzi

Elissar received her MSc in Biological Sciences from Notre Dame University, Lebanon.  She is now a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Innovative Training Network PhD student and part of the CANCERPREV network under the supervision of Emmy Verschuren and co-supervision of Wim Declrecq (Ghent University). Her role is to explore the translational potential of inflammatory signaling modulation in the tertiary prevention of non-small-cell lung cancer. She ultimately aims to generate personalized diagnostic assays centered around tumor and patient-specific profile from primary cancer cells to help tailor and potentiate treatments of drug resistant NSCLC. Apart from work, Elissar enjoys spending time with family, friends, and any puppy she comes across.

Alumni (position to where they moved)
  • Ashwini Nagaraj (Postdoc, Färkkilä lab, Uni. Helsinki)
  • Jennifer Devlin, PhD (Postdoc, Johnstone lab, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, Australia)
  • Katja Närhi, PhD (Medical Science Liaison, GSK, Helsinki)
  • Jenni Lahtela (Postdoc, Single Cell Analytics Unit, FIMM)
  • Van Dat Nguyen (Researcher, Kauppi lab, Uni. Helsinki)
  • Merja Särkioja, PhD (Senior Science Advisor, Academy of Finland)
  • Barun Pradhan (PhD student, Kauppi lab, Uni. Helsinki)
  • Elina Parri (PhD student, Wennerberg lab, FIMM)
  • Rita Matos (PhD student, Vartiainen lab, Uni. Helsinki)
  • Nitai Peled (TRANSMED Master’s student)