Caroline Heckman received her Ph.D. degree from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and post-doctoral training at Stanford University, USA. Her research focus at Stanford was identifying the molecular mechanisms responsible for deregulated oncogene expression in B cell lymphomas. Dr. Heckman joined FIMM in 2010 where she established a group focused on understanding the mechanisms driving disease progression and drug resistance in hematological malignancies, as well as applying technologies for better translation of basic research results towards clinical implementation.
Sadiksha Adhikari is a doctoral student focused on personalized medicine. During her PhD she is utilizing NGS technologies to understand disease biology and identify molecular indicators of drug responses in hematological diseases for a rational application of personalized medicine. Her work involves implementing bioinformatics pipelines and tools to identify variants using whole exome sequencing and their association with drug response. She is also utilizing single cell transcriptomics for in-depth analysis of the tumor landscape, to identify populations of normal and clonal malignant cells as well as biomarkers and mechanics relevant to relapse, remission and drug sensitivity or resistance in hematological malignancies. She completed her Master's degree in Translational Medicine (TRANSMED) from the University of Helsinki in 2020.
Vilma is a doctoral student in the Doctoral Program in Biomedicine and is doing her PhD thesis in the Heckman group. In her work she combines different bioinformatic approaches and lab methods for biomarker discovery and immuno-oncology target identification for acute leukemias. She mainly utilizes bulk and single cell RNA sequencing, mutation data, cytogenetics, high-throughput flow cytometry and drug sensitivity and resistance testing. Vilma received her Master's degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine from University of Oulu (Finland) and Ulm University (Germany) as a double degree in the beginning of 2021, but has been part of the group since the late 2019.
Romika Kumari has been a post-doctoral researcher in the group since March 2018. Romika is trained as a bioinformatician. She obtained her Ph.D. degree from the University College Cork, Ireland, where she studied the effect of RNA G-quadruplexes and polyamines on protein translation using ribosome profiling technique. Her post-doctoral work focuses on analyzing various '-omics' related dataset from patient samples to enable identification of potential biomarkers related to drug sensitivity and disease progression in hematological malignancies. Currently, her work involves analyzing microRNA expression and single-cell RNA sequencing profiles from multiple myeloma (MM) patients both to facilitate the assessment of treatment outcome and prognosis, and to elucidate clonal evolution in MM. These studies would aid in the advancement of prognostication and precision medicine treatment strategies for hematological malignancies.
Rhiannon Newman is a doctoral student in the Heckman lab as part of the Doctoral Programme in Biomedicine. Her research is focused on elucidating novel CDK4/6 inhibitor combinations in acute myeloid leukemia alongside identifying corresponding molecular biomarkers which indicate treatment response. Rhiannon received her BSc in Medical Biochemistry in June 2018 and her MSc in Translational Oncology in December 2019, both from the University of Sheffield (UK).
Alina Malyutina is a doctoral student whose main focus is on prediction of personalized drug combinations. She works on development of clinically-relevant computational and statistical methods for desiging drug combinations to individual cancer patients. Alina received her MSc degree in Computational Engineering at the Lappeenranta University of Technology and joined FIMM as a FIMM-EMBL/HIIT PhD student.
Juho Miettinen, M.Sc., Ph.D. received his doctoral degree in biochemistry from the University of Helsinki in 2015. He joined the group in 2016 as a post-doctoral researcher. Juho is now a senior researcher specialized in quantitative mass spectrometry-based proteomics. His research efforts are currently focused on identifying potential biomarkers for sensitivity and resistance to MCL1 inhibition in hematological malignancies, especially in acute myeloid leukemia and multiple myeloma.
Ezgi June is a Master’s student in the Heckman Group. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics at Middle East Technical University (Ankara, Turkey) in 2020. She is now wrapping up her Master’s degree in Genetics and Molecular Biosciences at the University of Helsinki. Ezgi June’s MSc thesis project is on BH3-mimetic resistance in AML where she is looking to characterise the molecular mechanisms of drug-resistance to find novel drug combinations for overcoming resistance.
Originally from South Wales, Alun Parsons studied for a BSc in Genetics at Cardiff University, and an MSc in Biotechnology at the University of Central Lancashire. Alun has lived in Finland since 1999, and has worked in the Personalised Medicine group as a Senior laboratory technician since 2010.
Joseph Saad is a doctoral student in the field of personalized and translational medicine. His research is centered around the implementation and use of bioinformatics methods for identifying molecular biomarkers that associate with response to novel drugs and drug combinations in acute leukemias. Joseph received his BSc in Bioinformatics from the Lebanese American University (LAU) in 2016 and his MSc in Drug Discovery and Development from the University of Turku in 2018.
Philipp Sergeev is doctoral student working on identification of peripheral blood biomarkers and drug repurposing in relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma with the focus on RNA molecules, such as lncRNAs and RNAs circulating in the bloodstream. Philipp received his BSc degree in Biology from the Southern Federal University in 2017 and MSc Degree in Molecular Biology from the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, Russia in 2019. Philipp has experience from molecular biology techniques, such as cell culturing, isolation, purification and further processing of proteins and nucleic acid, in addition to imaging techniques.
Peppi Suominen is a Master’s student in the Heckman group. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Biomedicine at the University of Turku in 2020 and is now studying in the Translational Medicine Master’s program at the University of Helsinki. In her thesis work, she is utilizing CRISPR-Cas9 technology to create gene knock-out cell lines of multiple myeloma and will test the effect on drug resistance.
Minna Suvela, B.Eng., is a senior laboratory technician in the Translational Research and Personalized Medicine group. Minna takes care of processing of human tissues, primarily peripherial blood, bone marrow and skin, and isolation of viable mononuclear cells, DNA and RNA from them. In addition, she is resposible of establishment of standard operating procedures (SOPs), quality assessment of samples and their submission for drug sensitivity testing and sequence analysis, invoicing for services, and communication with hospital clinics and laboratory staff
Mahesh Tambe, Ph.D., is a post-doctoral researcher investigating molecular mechanisms of resistance to BH3-mimetic drugs in AML. Earlier, he identified a novel role of pan-RAF inhibitors to induce apoptosis in AML in the laboratory of Prof. Krister Wennerberg. Additionally, Mahesh has investigated the role of microRNAs and protein phosphatases on mitosis signaling during his PhD studies.
Dimitrios Tsallos' PhD research project is focused on the pharmacological counteraction of chemotherapy induced thrombocytopenia. He is also actively involved in projects related to disease progression and biobanking in multiple myeloma. Dimitrios received his Master in Stratified Medicine and Pharmacological Innovation from the University of Glasgow in 2015 and Bachelor with Honours in Biotechnology (applied molecular biology and biobusiness) from the University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom in 2013.
Markus Vähä-Koskela, Ph.D., is a Senior Researcher with extensive experience in molecular virology and tumor immunology. He did his postdoctoral fellowship at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Canada, where he developed and applied several different viruses as cancer immunotherapy. At the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland, he has specialized in understanding and overcoming innate tumor defenses against immunotherapeutics and small molecules at single cell resolution. His current project involves developing and evaluating organoid-based precision medicine models for pancreatic- and gastric cancer, as well as functional models for immune-mediated targeting of primary leukemias. Dr. Vähä-Koskela also works as the coordinator for the FIMM Postdoctoral Professional Development Programme (FIMMPOD).
Muntasir Mamun Majumder, Ph.D.
After a highly engaging PhD at Heckman lab and a brief postdoctoral training, Mamun joined at GlaxoSmithKline Pharma as an investigator. He was a core team player to establish single cell technologies and driving the compound development at Heidelberg site. Currently he is working as as an Respiratory Safety Scientist at AstraZeneca where he is supporting early target safety assessment and risk management to impact respiratory portfolio as a Translational Toxicologist.
Jarno Kivioja, Ph.D.
Jarno's PhD thesis focused on improving the treatment and molecular detection of translocation (5;11) positive acute myeloid leukemia, which defines a biologically distinct subset of patients with poor prognosis. Currently, Jarno is working as a postdoctoral fellow in experimental hematology lab at the University Hospital Zürich (dept. of medical oncology and hematology) to facilitate discovery of targeted therapies for lymphoid neoplasms.
Riikka Karjalainen, Ph.D.
In her PhD thesis Riikka Karjalainen investigated BM microenvironment mediated drug resistance in AML. After completing PhD, Riikka started working as a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Biomedicine, University Hospital Basel where she currently studies the function of hematopoietic stem cells in models of myeloproliferative neoplasms.