Group Aaltonen
Lauri A. Aaltonen, Professor, M.D., Ph.D.
Reetta Alajoki, research assistant

After completing my master's thesis project here at Aaltonen lab and graduating from the Master's Programme in Genetics and Molecular Biosciences at the end of 2023, I continued to work here as a research assistant. My work in the lab focuses on the functional characterization of cell models for uterine leiomyoma driver mutations.

Reetta Alajoki contact info

Simona Bramante, Ph.D.

I am a postdoctoral researcher with a background in molecular biology and cancer gene therapy. I have a strong interest in translational research and precision medicine. My current work focuses on the development of patient-derived 2D and 3D models of uterine leiomyoma, as predictive preclinical models for drug discovery and drug design. I mainly perform cell culture experiments, genotypic and phenotypic characterization of in vitro-generated models and high-throughput drug sensitivity assays.

Simona Bramante contact info

Sini Ilves, Ph.D. student

I am a doctoral researcher and a medical student studying the role of allelic imbalance in uterine leiomyomas. The aim of my project is to characterize and further analyze the chromosomal aberration patterns in leiomyoma genetic subclasses to gain information on their impact on the tumorigenesis. My work includes data analysis and lab work. I am currently in my final years of medical school.

Sini Ilves contact info

Vilja Jokinen, Ph.D. student

I started working in Aaltonen lab in 2021 after graduating from the Master's Programme in Genetics and Molecular Biosciences. My research projects mainly focus on genetic alterations driving tumorigenesis in uterine leiomyomas. Our goal is to classify leiomyoma subtypes and understand mechanisms underlying tumorigenesis in these different tumor subtypes. My work includes both lab work and bioinformatics.

Vilja Jokinen contact info

Helmiina Järvi, research assistant

I am currently working on my master's thesis here at Aaltonen lab. My work focuses on characterizing uterine leiomyoma subclass-specific treatment responses.

Helmiina Järvi contact info 


Auli Karhu, Ph.D., Adjunct Professor in Molecular Ge­net­ics

My research is focused on identification and understanding molecular changes, genetic and epigenetic, that are critical for tumor development and progression. Identification of new genotype/phenotype correlations also in other clinical conditions are among my research interests. The work involves analysis and interpretation of next-generation sequencing data, transcriptome and methylation profiling and various cellular works.

Auli Karhu contact info

Riku Katainen, Ph.D., title of Docent

I am a postdoctoral researcher in the Tumor Genomics (Aaltonen) and Machine Learning in Biomedicine (Pitkänen) groups. My research focuses mainly on next-generation sequencing-powered disease genetics, which involves analyses of inherited and somatically acquired genetic variants of all sizes as well as software development. I got my formal education in the University of Helsinki from where I received degrees in computer science (BSc), bioinformatics (MSc), and cancer genetics (PhD).

Riku Katainen contact info

Jaana Kaukomaa, M.Sc., PhD student

My research projects focus on characterizing the genetic background of uterine leiomyomas. The work involves analyzing whole genome, exome, and SNP array data.

Jaana Kaukomaa contact info

Alison London, M.Sc., senior laboratory technician

I am a senior laboratory technician. My duties principally include experimental planning and research. I troubleshoot and develop better working practices and design protocols for complex samples to facilitate and improve the quality and the quantity of data. I maintain our sample collection, manage the use of DNA stocks and the preparation of samples, including library preps for various downstream applications. I undertake the comparison of data and analysis, including interpretation and evaluation of results. On a general basis I perform various molecular genetic techniques such as DNA isolations, quantification analysis, PCR, fragment analysis, western blots, isolation of RNA and sequencing.

Alison London contact info

Samantha Martin, M.Sc., Ph.D. student

I am a PhD student with a background in molecular biology. My main research focus is on microsatellite unstable colorectal cancer (MSI-CRC), using high-throughput sequencing methods such as whole genome sequencing and RNA-sequencing to characterise both sporadic MSI-CRCs and Lynch Syndrome-related CRCs.

Samantha Martin contact info

Sini Marttinen, research nurse

I have worked as a research nurse in Aaltonen lab since Dec 2000. My responsibilities are genealogy work and sample management. I maintain and develop our database and combine cancer data with our sample database. As extra curriculum I co-arrange our recreational activities and I’m in charge of the safety issues. I’m in the wellbeing group in the Faculty of Medicine and RPU as well as a Trusted Person.

Sini Marttinen contact info

Heikki Metsola, IT designer

I am part of our bioinformatics team. My main responsibilities are all data integrated actions and I try to create an illusion of easiness for our researchers, so that they wouldn't need to worry about their samples. Our data collection is ever increasing and the fluid use of it is a complex puzzle that we are trying solve on a daily basis.

Heikki Metsola contact info

Päivi Nummi, M.Sc., Ph.D. student

I am a PhD student in bioinformatics. My research is focused on retrotransposons in the human genome. I detect somatic and germline transposons from whole-genome sequencing data and study the relationship between cancer and retrotransposition.

Päivi Nummi contact info

Kimmo Palin, Ph.D., title of Docent

I am a senior staff scientist working both in Aaltonen and Taipale groups. My research is Bioinformatics and Computational Biology from genetics and functional regulatory genomics perspective. I'm involved especially with genetic epidemiology and biobank research related projects and have special interest in functional genomics, gene regulation and functional understanding of non-coding genetic variation.

Kimmo Palin contact info

Anniina Raitila, Ph.D.

My career in the Tumor Genomics group started as a trainee on Jan 2001 and was on a brake after my dissertation Dec 2009 (incl. parental leave and almost 8 years in a medical technology company). I joined to the group as a Postdoctoral Researcher on Sep 2023 with the research focus on uterine leiomyomas. I have studied biotechnology (engineer & MSc), genetics (PhD), and pedagogy for adult education. During my work career I have been involved in risk assessments and work-wellbeing e.g. as a member of Occupational Health and Safety Committee and as a RPU’s Trusted person. 

Anniina Raitila contact info

Juuli Raivola, Ph.D.

I am a postdoctoral researcher working at Aaltonen lab, where my project focuses on characterization and drug screening of patient derived uterine leiomyoma and myometrium cells. Our aim is to depict the events that lead to the formation of myomas and to find drug candidates for more efficient, noninvasive treatment options.

In my main project at Daniela Ungureanu lab, I study the molecular mechanisms that drive ovarian cancer development. In this work, our goal is to find better treatment options against metastatic and resistant ovarian cancer using high-throughput drug screening and cell-based assays combined to single cell expression data.

Juuli Raivola contact info

Marjo Rajalaakso, research nurse

I am a research nurse.  While my work includes some genealogy and databasing tasks, I also support the lab by being responsible for ordering and compiling patient records as well as collecting and providing patient samples to the researchers such as fresh frozen tissue and FFPE blocks and slides.

Marjo Rajalaakso contact info

Kristiina Rajamäki, Ph.D.

I joined the Aaltonen lab as a postdoctoral researcher in 2018. I have a strong background in innate immune signaling and working with primary human blood cells and tissues in translational studies involving complex and familial inflammatory diseases. At the Aaltonen lab, my work will focus on studying the genetics and cellular mechanisms of cancer types strongly associated with inflammation, including colitis-associated colorectal cancer. 

Kristiina Rajamäki contact info

Maritta Räisänen, M.Sc., Ph.D. student

I am a PhD student with M.Sc degree major in human genetics. My project is part of the uterine leiomyoma regulatory genome project. My duties involve both lab work and data analysis of ATAC-seq, ChIP-seq and HiChIP from uterine leiomyomas.

Maritta Räisänen contact info



Lauri Sipilä, M.Sc., Ph.D. student

I’m a doctoral researcher, currently writing my dissertation. My research projects have revolved around the identification of cancer patient groups with significant underlying risk factors in Finnish registry data, and how the molecular genetic effects of the risk factor can then be studied. Digging through the different registries also has translational potential, because in some cases we may be able to identify important genetic information and return it to the at-risk individuals themselves before a cancer has developed, which may improve health outcomes in the long run.

Lauri Sipilä contact info

Sirpa Soisalo, research secretary

My main duties involve genealogy work and databasing. I also have a variety of secretarial and administrative duties which include updating group's webpage, processing an assortment of paperwork, checking invoices, control of supplies, domestic and international travel arrangements as well as submitting travel expenses etc.

Sirpa Soisalo contact info

Aurora Taira, M.Sc., Ph.D. student

I’m a doctoral researcher studying the role and regulation of DNA methylation in cancer. As a bioinformatican my job is to formulate the biological research questions in such a way that computers can understand them. In this task I utilize for example R and shell scripting. In addition to research I’m keen on teaching and have been teaching bioinformatics and designing course materials at the University of Helsinki for several years.

Aurora Taira contact info

Iina Vuoristo, M.Sc., senior laboratory manager

I am senior laboratory manager. My duties include taking care of reagent and supply orders. I also maintain our patient lymphoblastoid cell line collection.

Generally I perform various techniques such as exome library prepping, DNA/RNA isolations, PCR/qPCR, immunohistochemistry, fragment analysis and cell culture.

Iina Vuoristo contact info

Niko Välimäki, Ph.D., title of Docent

Postdoctoral researcher. I received my PhD in computer science from the University of Helsinki in 2012. Since then I have continued at Aaltonen lab as a postdoc. My work involves bioinformatics and computational data analysis of the various high-throughput data. My current interests are in statistical inference and data science.

Niko Välimäki contact info

Inga-Lill Åberg, M.Sc., senior laboratory manager

I am the senior laboratory manager handling most of the techniques and equipment used in the lab. I am responsible for the chemicals and their safety handling, maintenance and service of the equipment and guiding of new members of the lab. In general I do various molecular genetic techniques, for example DNA, RNA and protein extractions, PCR, qPCR, Western blots, immunohistochemistry, cell culture, exome sequencing and bacterial methods, and I maintain the sample collection.

Inga-Lill Åberg contact info