The group is a part of the Academy of Finland’s Center of Excellence in Tumor Genetics Research, and one of few in Europe that has succeeded in winning two consecutive ERC advanced grants (2011 and 2016).
For papers emanated from previous efforts please see the selected publications in journals such and Science, Nature, Nature Genetics and New England Journal of Medicine. Particular focus of interest has been hereditary colorectal cancer, where the group has contributed to several key discoveries. Unraveling the mechanism of common colon cancer predisposition 2009-2012 with Taipale group was a breakthrough in understanding population level cancer susceptibility. We have also identified and characterized novel disease predisposition syndromes such as hereditary leiomyomatosis and renal cell cancer caused by fumarase mutations, and pituitary adenoma predisposition caused by germline mutations in the AIP gene. More recently work has revolved around characterization of the genomes of colorectal cancer and uterine leiomyoma – one of the most common tumors in women – with equal success.
Another focus is utilization of registry-based approaches to identify unique cancer materials, for whole genome sequence analysis and identification of mutation patterns associated with different exposures such as those related to occupation. Finland provides excellent registry resources for this work, including the National Cancer Registry (operating since 1953).
A major area of long-term work is comprehensive molecular characterization of tumors with high-throughput approaches, to better understand their genesis, and management opportunities. This task – a continuation of the previous work on colorectal cancer and uterine leiomyoma - relies on production and analysis of multiple layers of high-throughput data, in addition to exploitation of public data sources. These tasks require very strong bioinformatics, and indeed within the group one third of members are purely involved in this sector.
The group has produced 37 completed thesis projects, sixteen of which have been approved with distinction, including five that have won various thesis prizes. The group was short-listed for the 2005 Descartes Prize. We were also honored with the University of Helsinki Occupational Safety and Health Award 2005 for improving quality, safety, and atmosphere of the working environment. We are still very proud of this achievement and make every effort to maintain the excellent spirit.