Lab members / Klefström lab

  • Klefström lab

  • Klefa’s angels

  • 3D-cultured breast cancer fragments

  • Lab life

For open positions in the lab, click here.

Research Coordinator

Jeroen Pouwels

Adjunct Professor

Jeroen Pouwels obtained his PhD in 2004 from the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands, after which he did two postdocs in Turku, one at VTT Biotechnology and one at the Turku Centre for Biotechnology. Since 2013 Jeroen is running his own research team at the Turku Centre for Biotechnology, which focuses on the characterization of the multifunctional adaptor protein Sharpin.

Since August 2017 Jeroen is on sabbatical in Helsinki, where he is the research coordinator for the TEHO project, a Challenge Finland (TEKES) awarded project focusing on adaptive clinical trial design. Within this project he focuses especially on the establishment of patient-derived tumour explant cultures as a predictive preclinical model for breast cancer, and how to use these explants for biomarker discovery.

In his free time Jeroen likes to spend time with his family, he loves traveling all around the globe, and he is a very active stock market investor.


Post Docs



Topi Tervonen received his PhD in 2008, in the field of neural stem cells at Neuroscience Center, University of Helsinki and continued his post-doctoral training in cancer biology at University of Helsinki. Topi’s work on membrane-anchored serine proteases and cancer has revealed up- and downstream mechanisms regulating these microenvironment modifying and tumor promoting enzymes. Topi also works in Biomedicum Functional Genomics Unit (FuGU) as head of virus services and leader of FuGU/libraries life science infrastructure of HiLife GoEditStem platform. He has been actively bringing genome-scale genome editing resources and services in to University of Helsinki. Topi’s knowhow is being capitalized in BMGen Oy where he works as a part time contractor. Topi loves sports, music, movies, and spending time with his family.

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.


Johanna Lampe


Johanna obtained her PhD in 2012 from the Eberhard-Karls University Tübingen, Germany, where she developed and tested oncolytic viruses. She continued working in this field as a postdoc at the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland FIMM in Helsinki.
Johanna joined the Klefström lab in October 2017 as a member of the TEKES-awarded TEHO project. She is focusing on therapy-induced senescence and on developing a predictive pre-/coclinical model based on patient-derived explant cultures. In her free time Johanna enjoys spending time with her family, good food, and playing Basketball.

Doctoral students

Shishir Pant


Shishir completed his Master’s degree in Molecular biotechnology from University of Helsinki. Currently he is a graduate student in doctoral program in biomedicine and his research focuses on deciphering the oncogenic role of serine protease hepsin in breast cancer. He is particularly interested in how the cancer cell interact with the microenvironment and development of novel therapeutic agents to prevent this cross-talk.  Shishir is also an active board member of biomedical and clinical student council and has been organizing several courses, conferences and various science outreach events. When not in lab, Shishir is either on a football field, hiking or traveling around Europe.

Denis Belitskin


I received my BSc and MSc in Gene Technology from The University of Tartu (Estonia), where I started in the field of applied virology, and later went on, to study the role of stem cells in liver cancer for my Master`s thesis. My research is focused on novel biological roles of the serine protease hepsin in breast cancer, discovery of mechanisms through which hepsin is providing advantages to cancer cells in growth and survival. I`m working in close collaboration with other members of the team (Topi Tervonen, Shishir M. Pant) and international collaborators in the attempt to target extracellular and intracellular functions of hepsin by using small molecules, which will provide proof of principle that hepsin is an attractive target for breast cancer therapy.

Outside of the lab I`m a great husband, cool father, stock market investor and a beekeeper.

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 the Tekes-awarded TEHO project which explores Finland’s potential for running adaptive clinical trials in the future.

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


Iiris Räty

MD PhD Student

Masters Students

Mariel Savelius

Mariel Savelius is currently doing 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.


Lab Management

Tiina Raatikainen

Laboratory Analyst

Tiina Raatikainen has graduated from Metropolia, University of Applied Sciences in 2008. At that time, she was already working in Klefström lab. She works as a Laboratory Manager with versatile tasks from genotyping-PCR to in vivo projects. Her ambition is to continuously generate knowledge and experience in many fields especially on those that are useful to the lab. Tiina works also in Biomedicum Functional Genomics Unit (FuGU) where she is maintaining and managing the Biomedicum Virus Core (BVC) by giving customers biosafety training, guidance and performing quality control assays. Tiina loves to spend time with her family and friends, play games and bake different kinds of sweets!


Janika Ruuska

Laboratory Engineer

Janika Ruuska finished her Bachelors of Biomedical Engineering from Metropolia University of Applied Sciences in 2017. She is currently working as a laboratory engineer with her own project involving the cellular identity of human breast cancer samples in various biomimetic matrices. She is passionate about the science behind human health.

Janika is an avid traveler and sports enthusiast with a great sense of humor.


Functional genomics unit (FuGu)

Katariina Karjalainen

MScLaboratory coordinator

Katariina completed her Master’s degree in Molecular Biosciences from University of Helsinki, where she specialised in Human Genetics. She also has pedagogical qualification for adult education. Currently she is working as a laboratory coordinator at Biomedicum Functional Genomics Unit (FuGU) in virus services and FuGU/libraries life science infrastructure of HiLife GoEditStem platform.
Katariina has a special interest in visualising science and making it more accessible to everyone. In her free time she is an visual artist, traveller and and explorer of different food cultures.


Maria Salmela

PhD, Laboratory Coordinator

Maria Salmela received her PhD in 2017, in the field of biochemistry and cell biology at the University of Turku, where she studied integrin mediated cell adhesion and signalling pathways. Her current position as a laboratory coordinator in HiLIFE affiliated GoEditStem platform (including Biomedicum Functional Genomics Unit (FuGU) and Finnish Genome editing Center (FinGEEC)) involves management of recombinant virus services and platform development. The main goal of the platform is to educate researches and facilitate the use of different genome editing tools. Other geek stuff in Maria’s life include playing computer games and reading fantasy and science fiction novels. The natural habitats for her, outside the lab, are dance floor and forest, where she likes to shake-shake-shake or pick mushrooms, respectively.


Klefalab alumni

  • 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

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