Lab members / Klefström lab

  • Klefström lab

    Focus day 2019
  • Klefa’s angels

  • 3D-cultured breast cancer fragments

  • Lab life

For open positions in the lab, click here.

Research Coordinator


Adjunct Professor

Topi Tervonen received his PhD in 2008, in the field of neural stem cells at the Neuroscience Center, University of Helsinki. For his post-doctoral training he chose to study molecular cancer biology in Dr. Juha Klefström’s group at the University of Helsinki. Topi’s work on membrane-anchored serine proteases and cancer has revealed new up- and downstream mechanisms regulating these microenvironment-modifying and tumor-promoting enzymes. Related to the topic, Topi has supervised 2 MSc theses, one engineer thesis, one lab analyst thesis and 2 PhD theses thus far. Topi has served as a research coordinator since 2014 and, in 2020, he obtained the title of docent (adjunct professor) from the University of Helsinki in the field of cell and molecular biology. During recent years, Topi has been actively bringing in genome-scale genome editing resources and services in University of Helsinki and also nationally. He was named the vice chair of Stem Cells and Genome Editing technology platform of Biocenter Finland in 2020. He has also taken a position as principal investigator in Finnish Genome Editing Center (FinGEEC) core unit of GoEditStem HiLIFE infra platform in University of Helsinki in 2021. Topi has also worked as part time contractor in Biomedicum Genomics Oy (partially owned by University of Helsinki). Outside work Topi loves sports, music, movies, scientific books, and spending time with his wife and two children.

Post Docs

Pauliina Munne


Pauliina Munne received her PhD in 2010, in the field of developmental biology and physiology at the Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki and continued her post-doctoral training in breast cancer and mammary gland biology at the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM) at University of Helsinki. After that she worked as a head of genome profiling in Biomedicum Functional Genomics Unit (FuGU), where she gained expertise in next generation sequencing and microarrays. Her current position as a post-doctoral researcher focuses on understanding molecular mechanisms regulated by the microenvironment in mammary gland and in breast cancer, where she is particularly interested in the regulation of cellular identity. She is also involved as a part time contract researcher in BMGen Oy coordinating projects in genome profiling. She is keen on all beauties and wonders of nature and science.


Daniel Nicorici

PhD, Senior Bioinformatician

Daniel has a Doctor of Technology on data processing and bioinformatics from Tampere University of Technology (nowadays Tampere University).

He has experience with omics data analysis, next generation sequencing, drug discovery, and biomarker discovery.  In his free time, Daniel enjoys jogging and dancing.

Ruixian Liu (Mars)


Mars received his PhD in 2017 from the Sun Yat-sen University, China, where his research interest focused on tumor-infiltrating B cells. After that he continued his post-doctoral training about biomarker discovery and cancer immunotherapy in Sun Yat-sen University.
Mars joined the lab in November 2019. He is now working on developing new combination strategies to improve efficacy of immunotherapy in breast cancer. Outside of lab, he likes cooking, hiking, and swimming.

Doctoral students

Johanna Anttila


Johanna Anttila received her MSc degree in Biochemistry from the Molecular and Cellular Biology Programme in University of Oulu and did her Master’s thesis in Klefström lab in 2017. After graduating she has continued her work in the lab as a doctoral student. Johanna aspires to harness oncogene MYC-dependent cancer cell vulnerabilities in the objective of translating our research into benefit of cancer patients. Besides science, Johanna is into various sports including frisbee golf and tennis as well as loves to spend time enjoying music and photography.



Rita Turpin


Rita Turpin finished her MSc with a major in Human Genetics and a minor in Molecular Biology at the University of Helsinki, and is continuing her work throughout her doctoral studies. Her project focuses on determining the immunocontexture of a novel 3D ex vivo breast cancer model in hopes of opening doors for future immune-relevant synthetic lethal drug combination and biomarker studies. In addition to her own work, Rita has been collaborating with CancerIO.

Rita’s hobbies include singing, board games, and hosting parties.


Mariel Savelius


Mariel Savelius recently completed her Master’s degree in Molecular Biotechnology from University of Helsinki. She is interested in translational research and how people can benefit from the applications that it creates. Mariel is keen on learning more about the molecular mechanisms of cancer and now she is working in the project about linking oncogene MYC metabolism to cancer cell apoptosis. She is also interested in how cancer cells apoptosis effects on immune system and how that could be used to create new therapies against cancer. In her free time she likes to travel, enjoys good food and doing different activities with her friends.


Iiris Räty

MD PhD Student

Iiris has started her medical studies in the MD PhD programme in 2016 and she joined Klefström lab in 2017.  Her research focuses on the interaction between the tumor microenvironment and ER-positive breast cancer cells and new potential therapeutic targets related to ER-signaling. In her free time Iiris enjoys reading, spending time outdoors and various sports such as skiing, running and dancing. 



Aino Peura

MD PhD Student

Aino Peura is a MD-PhD-student who joined Klefsröm lab in 2018. Her thesis is focused on understanding the immunological interactions between the breast cancer microenvironment and immune cells.

In her free time she enjoys reading and is a keen long distance runner

July Aung


July recently completed her Master’s degree in Genetics and Molecular Biosciences at the University of Helsinki, specialising in Cell and Developmental Biology. She is keen on learning how cancer and the tumour microenvironment interact with the immune system. Her interests in cancer, immunology and translational research have brought her to Klefa lab where she investigates MYC synthetic lethal targets in enhancing cancer immunotherapy. She is motivated by and looks forward to the day where her research can benefit patients battling with breast cancer.

When not at her bench, July can be found either enjoying the beautiful Finnish nature, cooking up a storm for close friends and family, attempting to grow a new plant or trying to pick up a new language. On dark winter days, she avidly watches movies and hopes to be lucky enough to see the Aurora Borealis one day.

Linda Id


Linda completed her Master’s degree at the University of Helsinki in Genetics and Molecular Biosciences program with a major in Genetics and Genomics. Her project in Klefström lab focuses on finding oncogene MYC driving metabolic vulnerabilities in TNBC. In addition to cancer metabolism, Linda is interested in immune-oncology and combining these two for future cancer therapies.

Outside of the lab Linda enjoys a great variety of sports, board games and knitting, as well as taking care of her plant babies.

Antti Hiltunen


Antti Hiltunen received his Master’s degree in Genetics and Molecular Biosciences from the University of Helsinki with a focus on genetics and genomics. His master’s thesis focused on the function of serine protease hepsin in the immune landscape of triple negative breast cancer. Antti is now switching gears and has started his PhD studies with a focus on exploiting the vulnerabilities caused by the oncogene Myc. He is keen on understanding how Myc regulates the mitochondrial metabolism and how Myc-driven cancers may be susceptible to drugs targeting the electron transport chain.

In his free time, Antti is an avid climber, outdoorsman, and a gamer.

Masters Students

Linda Patrikainen


Linda Patrikainen is a Masters student in the Genetics and Molecular Biosciences -Master’s program at the University of Helsinki. Her research project focuses on the interaction between the tumor microenvironment and ER-positive breast cancer cells. When she is not studying, she enjoys good music, nature and jogs.

Emmie Salmelin


Emmie Salmelin is a master’s student in Genetics and Molecular Biosciences at University of Helsinki. Her research project focuses on activating NK cell cytotoxicity towards Myc-driven breast cancer. When she isn’t at work or at school, she enjoys sports, the outdoors and spending time with her friends.

Technical Staff

Elina Hurskainen

Laboratory Manager, MSc

Elina finished her MSc with a major in Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Jyväskylä. She works as a laboratory manager with versatile tasks from coordinating and integrating lab resources to technical experimental support. Additionally, she manages the Biomedicum Virus Core (BVC) which falls under the Finnish Helsinki Institute of Life Sciences (HiLIFE) infrastructure aimed to promote quality research across campuses. Her BVC responsibilities include facility management, preparing customer lentivirus orders, virus titer testing for clients (RCV, p24), user training and customer support.

Outside the lab Elina is a live music-enthusiast, animal lover, gamer, green-thumb, and a superb home chef. She is also a licensed swim instructor, lifeguard and cocktail bartender in case there is a need.

Babette Hollmann

Babette has finished her job training 2007 in Marburg/Lahn. She joined Klefström lab 2021 where she’s providing a pair of helping hands for the “Munne-Klubi”.

Outside of work, Babette is rarely spotted alone. Usually accompanied by her dog, she enjoys various outdoor activities. As a passionate couch potato, she’s happily handicrafting the evenings away or solving jigsaw puzzles.

Ilida Suleymanova

Data Consultant

Ilida has a Master’s degree in computational mathematics, and cybernetics from Kazan Federal University (KFU), Kazan, Russia. During her Masters, she focused on solving mathematical equations using Matlab software. To further enhance her skills, she decided to focus on its implementation in clinical studies, and joined the Neurobiology research group led by Dr. Rustem Khazipov’s at KFU. During her work in this lab, she was involved in developing Matlab-based algorithms for automatized analysis of brain activity in neonatal rats, and the clusterization of spikes of multiunit activity in the immature cortex.
Currently, she is completing her Ph.D. studies at the University of Helsinki. During her Ph.D. study, she quickly learned the necessary skills to perform biological experiments and on the other hand utilized her expertise in programming to develop novel algorithms to quantify large-scale images generated during the experiments.
As part of her long term goal, she wishes to contribute and pursue her career in the field involving mathematical and computational approaches to analyze biological data.

Klefalab alumni

  • MSc, RN
  • Jeroen Pouwels
  • Shishir Pant
  • Denis Belitskin
  • Maria Salmela
  • Tiina Raatikainen
  • Katariina Karjalainen Laboratory coordinator
  • Janika Ruuska
  • Johanna Lampe
  • Begüm Erdoğan
  • Heidi Haikala
  • Elina Pörsti
  • Hanna Ala-Hongisto
  • Tarja Välimäki
  • Annika Hau
  • Anni Viheriäranta
  • Ekaterina Virkunen
  • Johanna Englund
  • Liina Nevalaita
  • Vilja Eskelinen
  • Katriina Muona
  • Mikko Myllynen
  • Sirkku Saarikoski
  • Heini Natri
  • Misa Imai
  • Yan Yan
  • Essi Havula
  • Sauli Toikka
  • Anne Mäkelä
  • Katja Suomi
  • Elina Enlund
  • Harriet Gullsten
  • Marjukka
  • Jaakko
  • Amit Cohen
  • Juho
  • Kaisu
  • Niklas Ekman
  • Elsa Marques
  • Iiris Juopperi
  • Mari Urb

Research Programs Unit/Translational Cancer Biology
& Medicum, Biomedicum Helsinki 1,
Medical Faculty, University of Helsinki

Haartmaninkatu 8
00290 Helsinki

University of Helsinki internal mailing address
P.O. Box 63
FI-00014 University of Helsinki

Tel. Lab +358 2 941 25494 (room B509)
Office +358 2 941 25493 (room B507b)
Junior office (room B503)
Fax +358 2 941 25610