Pekka Katajisto
Pekka Katajisto, Principal Investigator

I am fascinated by the biology of aging. How and why our stem cells eventually fail to maintain tissue functions and physiological integrity? To me, that simply is the most interesting question - one that also continually spurs new research directions for the lab.

pekka.katajisto@helsinki.fi / pekka.katajisto@ki.se

Agustin Sola Carvajal
Agustin Sola Carvajal, Research Specialist
Lab Manager, KI

Stress is one of the most influencing factors in aging. Removing stress from our PhD students and postdocs and helping them to have a healthy research is my main focus. I am also interested on understanding how the stem cells of the skin behave during aging and development.

agustin.sola.carvajal@ki.se

Emilia Kuuluvainen
Emilia Kuuluvainen, Research Coordinator

I'm interested in how changes in a cell's environment or metabolism affects chromatin and transcription activity to control cell identity. I coordinate collaborations and do research on projects related to stem cell metabolism within MetaStem and Katajistolab. My tasks also include science communication, public outreach, organizing seminars and helping out with writing, grant applications and reporting.

emilia.kuuluvainen@helsinki.fi

Jenny Bärlund and Maija Simula
Jenny Bärlund and Maija Simula, Lab Managers, UH

Our main interest is to research and prevent the premature aging of our colleagues by focusing on lab management and taking care of running issues in the Helsinki lab. At present, the relative grayness of the test population is minor.

jenny.barlund@helsinki.fi / maija.simula@helsinki.fi

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Tiina Aliranta, Project Coordinator

I take care of the administrative side so that our researchers have more time to do great science. I work on financial and personnel administration, project management, organizing events, grant applications and reporting and any other task my colleagues come up with for me to do.

tiina.aliranta@helsinki.fi

POST DOCS

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Çise Kizilirmak

I am a molecular biologist trained for systems biology approaches. I did my PhD working on dynamics of a biological oscillator in the context of paracrine inflammatory signalling using live cell imaging as a main tool. I am interested in how cells use signalling molecules to keep each other informed and how far these signals travel in crowded environments. Will be joining to Katajisto Lab soon to start tackling some of these questions.

kizilirmak.cise@hsr.it

Johanna Englund
Johanna Englund

Tissue microenvironment determines multiple aspects of cell behaviour. I am interested in exploring how extracellular matrix affects stem cell maintenance and lineage specification during tissue remodelling and cancer initiation in the mammary gland. 

johanna.englund@helsinki.fi

Rodrigo Lozano
Rodrigo Lozano

My interests are focused on tissue engineering. At the Katajisto lab, my main interest is investigating the role of mechanical forces, niche contour, and extra cellular matrix (ECM) constituents, to understand the role they play in maintaining crypt function and intestinal tissue renewal.

rodrigo.lozano@ki.se

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Sandra Scharaw

Stem cells maintain tissue function by balancing self-renewal and differentiation, which is controlled by signaling cues from their surrounding niche. My research focuses on the cellular secretion processes that ensure successful signal delivery from the niche Paneth cells to the stem cells in the small intestine. I try to understand how the signal secretion is regulated and adapted in order to determine the stem cell fate.

sandra.scharaw@ki.se

Sharif Iqbal
Sharif Iqbal

Extracellular matrix (ECM) is an integral part of the stem cell niche. As part of the niche, ECM facilitates stroma-epithelium cross-talk, provides contextual information and impacts stem cell fate decisions. I am interested in investigating the molecular mechanisms of how ECM contributes to stem cell functions during homeostasis, regeneration and ageing especially in the mouse small intestine.

sharif.iqbal@helsinki.fi

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Swetha Gopalakrishnan

I am a developmental biologist turned stem cell biologist. Using skeletal muscle stem cells (satellite cells), I aim to study stem cell dynamics during activation and injury response. Importantly how changes in cellular metabolism influence cell fate decisions in these cells.

swetha.gopalakrishnan@helsinki.fi

PhD STUDENTS

Anna Webb
Anna Webb

My main interest is the interplay between intestinal cell types and their microenvironment, in homeostatic conditions as well as in early stages of colorectal cancer. Part of the microenvironment is the extracellular matrix, which provides structural support as well as factors to the intestinal epithelial cells. I am also investigating at what extent the extracellular matrix affects the intestinal epithelial cells.

anna.webb@ki.se

Daniel Borshagovski
Daniel Borshagovski

I am interested in how cell-intrinsic changes in aging tissues influence the interactions between stem cells and their niches and how these changes contribute to the deterioration of tissue function in aging animals. I aim to study the molecular features of single cells, with techniques such as single-cell RNA sequencing, to understand the importance of the niche for stem cell function in homeostasis and pathological states

daniel.borshagovski@ki.se

Eliisa Vähäkangas
Eliisa Vähäkangas

Mitochondria play a key role in regulating the glucose stimulated insulin release of beta-cells. I am interested to see how mitochondrial age affects differentiation towards the beta cell fate from human pluripotent stem cells and how mitochondrial age affects the function of beta cells. My project lies between the interests of two MetaStem labs, and thus I'm a shared PhD student of the Katajisto and Otonkoski labs.

eliisa.vahakangas@helsinki.fi

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Ella Salminen

Adult stem cells need to balance self-renewal and differentiation to maintain tissue function. I am interested in how the extracellular matrix guides stem cell faith decisions. I focus on studying the effects of basement membrane composition on regeneration and tumorigenesis in the intestinal epithelium.

ella.salminen@helsinki.fi

Hien Bui
Hien Bui

During asymmetric division, some stem cells asymmetrically organize and divide organelles. I am interested in understanding how this occurs and influences cell fate. In the lab, I am focusing on studying the mechanism that regulate age-selective segregation of peroxisomes during stem cell division.

hien.bui@helsinki.fi

Julia Döhla
Julia Döhla

Stem cell exhaustion is a key contributor to age related tissue demise. My interest is focused on the mechanisms stem cells use to avoid accumulation of damage and to maintain tissue renewal. Understanding how stem cells recognize and rid themselves of damaged cellular material in order to preserve their functionality can give important clues about aging and longevity.

julia.dohla@helsinki.fi

Martin Sandvik
Martin Sandvik

I’m interested in how skeletal muscle stem cells balance self-renewal and differentiation to enable regeneration throughout an individual’s lifetime. I’m especially keen on studying how organelle dynamics, metabolism, and exercise affect these stem cells, and currently I’m exploring whether peroxisomes, key players in metabolism, participate in cell fate changes. By understanding the basic mechanisms involved, we could understand and improve treatments for age-related loss of muscle mass and function.

martin.sandvik@helsinki.fi

Simon Andersson
Simon Andersson

Intestinal stem cells face the most metabolically varying conditions in the body. My interests lie in how stem cells and their niche cooperate to navigate such rapidly changing metabolic environments, I am particularly interested the role mitochondria play in stem cell function. 

simon.andersson@helsinki.fi

MSc STUDENTS

Ernesta Nestaite
Ernesta Nestaite

Stem cells have an ever so growing potential which interests me how do they interact during regeneration, what determines their fate, what can be done to extend their longevity, and most importantly, how can all this knowledge be incorporated into therapeutics. Exploring regeneration and pathways involved in it affected by age is my current interest.

ernesta.nestaite@helsinki.fi

ALUMNI


Nalle Pentinmikko - PhD 2021  > The Francis Crick Institute, London, UK

Alexandra Ritchie - Bachelor's student -2021

Kati Ahlqvist - PostDoc -2021

Ashish Kumar - PostDoc -2021  > BC Cancer Research Institute, Vancouver, Canada

Ville Lehtonen - Master of Science 2021  > Aiforia Technologies, Helsinki, Finland

Ana Amaral - PostDoc -2020  > Instituto de Biologia Experimental e Tecnológica, Oeiras, Portugal

Kalle Luopajärvi - Bachelor's student -2020

Paul Heinz - Master of Science 2020

Matthias Schewe - PostDoc -2020  > Institut für Tumorbiologie und Experimentelle Therapie, Frankfurt, Germany

Martin Broberg - Bioinformatician -2020  > Institute of Molecular Medicine Finland, Helsinki, Finland

Hanne Cojoc - Master of Science (Technology) 2020  > Valo Therapeutics, Helsinki, Finland

Tomas McKenna - PostDoc -2019  > Founder and CEO of Mother, start-up company, Stockholm, Sweden 

 Linda Olkkonen - Master of Science (Technology) 2017  > Neste Engineering Solutions, Helsinki, Finland
 
Jigishu Ahmed - Master of Science 2017

Eino Markelin - Master's student -2017  > Helsinki Innovation Services, University of Helsinki, Finland

Emmi Tiilikainen - Technician -2016  > Blood Service, Finnish Red Cross, Helsinki, Finland

Emir Sadi Cansu - Master of Science 2015  > TFI TAB Food Investments, Istanbul, Turkey

Cristina Martos Rus - Master of Science 2015  > Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, US

Alberto Quattrocchi - Master of Science 2014  > Sapienza Università di Roma, Rome, Italy