Juha Klefström

PhD, Research Professor in Finnish Cancer Institute

Juha Klefström, PhD, is a Research Professor in Finnish Cancer Institute, a part time Professor in FICAN-South (HUS) and a part time Research Director in the Translational Cancer Medicine Program, Medical Faculty, University of Helsinki. FICAN is the National Cancer Center Finland, a new operating model to promote current and high quality cancer care and research in Finland. He also holds a Visiting Professor position in Department of Cell & Tissue Biology at UCSF.  Klefström is an expert in translational cancer research, breast cancer biology, immuno-oncology, oncogenes and tumor suppressors, cell death, genetically engineered mouse models of breast cancer, mammary gland reconstitution techniques, ex vivo explant cultures and recombinant viral gene transfer methods. He has published in leading journals like Nature Communications, EMBO J, PNAS, Cancer Discovery and Cancer Cell.

Juha Klefström’s research focuses on therapeutic strategies aiming to exploit oncogene-induced vulnerabilities and he has long-term interest in the apoptotic function of MYC protein. Currently, his research group explores MYC-dependency pathways, especially those involved in metabolic reprograming and induction of immunogenic death in tumor cells. The lab has developed various patient-derived ex vivo culture and in vivo mouse model systems to understand how oncogenes reprogram the cell metabolism, epithelial plasticity and cell death machinery to drive tumorigenesis. Klefstrom Laboratory also aims to develop new therapeutic approaches that would selectively kill cancer cells and simultaneously activate tumor immune microenvironment through modulation of immunometabolism and immunogenic cell death.

Juha Klefström is a renowned scientist who has made significant contributions to the field of basic and translational cancer research. In 1997, he received Ph.D in Molecular Genetics from the University of Helsinki, Finland, supervised by the Academy Professor Kari Alitalo, and then received postdoctoral training with Gerard Evan at ICRF London (1998-1999) and UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center, San Francisco (2000-2002). In 2009, he briefly worked as a visiting Professor in QB3 institute, UCSF and in 2022-2023 he held a visiting Professor position in Department of Cell & Tissue Biology at UCSF. 

Juha Klefström Research Professor


PERSONAL DATA Juha Tapio Klefström

CURRENT MAIN POSITION Research Professor in Finnish Cancer Institute.


PROFESSOR (part-time). FICAN-South (HUS, Helsinki University Hospital).

RESEARCH DIRECTOR (part-time). Research Programs Unit, Medical Faculty, University of Helsinki (since August 2013). The Research Director position includes the following duties:

  • Member of the Research Programs Unit (RPU) of Medical Faculty (2019-2025). RPU is one of three units of the Medical Faculty with focus on top quality medical research. The unit’s research is organized in 9 internationally peer-reviewed programs, which include 90 research groups in total.
  • Member of the Translational Cancer Medicine Research Program (2019-2025). The program provides a platform for translational discovery that bridges the gap between the fundamental cancer re- search in the Academic Medical Center Helsinki and the early-stage clinical trials of the Helsinki University Hospital. In this platform, genomic, epidemiological and pathological analyses, analysis of patient-specific cancer organoids, mechanistic validation and drug efficacy studies will be inte- grated with data from the national databases, registries and biobanks.
  • Principal Investigator in the Medical Faculty & HiLIFE fellow.  Current size of research group (01.2020): PI, 1 Adj. Professor, 4 postdocs, 4 Ph.D students, 2 M.D/Ph.D students, 1 undergraduate, 2 RAs .
  • Breast Cancer Pilot. The iCAN Digital Precision Cancer Medicine flagship (2019- 2026). The iCAN is a cancer research and innovation platform established by the University of Helsinki and the Helsinki University Hospital HUS with the support of Academy of Finland. The national flagships selected for 2019-2026 aim to leverage a strong research base to build long-lasting competence clusters in their areas and thus provide societal and economic impact.

RESEARCH DIRECTOR (INFRASTRUCTURE, DEVELOPMENT). Medical Faculty and Helsinki Institute of Life Science (HiLIFE). The position includes the following duties:

  • Co-Director of Biomedicum Functional Genomics Unit, University of Helsinki (Since 2006). Bio- medicum Functional Genomics Unit is a comprehensive functional genomics service provider with Biocentrum Helsinki and Biocenter Finland affiliation.
  • Director of HiLFE’s Genome Editing and Stem Cell platform (Since 2017). This comprehensive functional genomics and stem cell service platform integrates functional genomics resources and services with modern somatic and stem cell technologies. The platform offers genome scale shRNA, cDNA/ORF and CRISPR libraries, viral gene transfer methods, and induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technologies.


  • 1990-1994 UNDERGRADUATE. University of Helsinki, Finland. Dr Sakari Knuutila and Prof. Eero Saksela.
  • 1994-1997 PHD STUDENT. University of Helsinki, Finland. Laboratory of Prof. Kari Alitalo.
  • 1997-11/2002 POSTDOCTORAL. Laboratory of Prof. Gerard Evan. Imperial Cancer Research Fund, UK and UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center, USA.
  • 2003-2005 JUNIOR FELLOW. Academy of Finland.
  • 2005 (4 mo) UNIVERSITY LECTURER (acting). Institute of Biomedicine/Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki
  • 2006-2008 DIRECTOR. Biomedicum Genomics Oy. Chairman of the Board of Directors 07/2007- 2009; Board member 2009-2019.
  • 2009 (2 mo) VISITING PROFESSOR, California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3), UCSF
  • 08/2008-07/2013 ACADEMY RESEARCH FELLOW. The Academy of Finland.
  • 08/2013-12/2019 VICE DIRECTOR. Translational Cancer Biology Research Program (TCB).
  • 08/2015-12/2019 VICE DIRECTOR. Research Programs Unit (RPU), Medical Faculty. Uni. Helsinki


1994. M.Sc (Genetics). University of Helsinki 1995. Ph.D. (Genetics). University of Helsinki 1996. Docent (Molecular Genetics). University of Helsinki


Organized Conferences and Symposia 2004 Programme committee member and organizer of BioFinland 2005 conference, Finland 2011 Cell Polarity in Health and Disease Workshop (Organized by Lu, Tapon, O’Neill, Klefstrom), Oxford, UK 2004 – Local minisymposia with international guest speakers: >10 Ad Hoc reviewer for regulatory issues 2007 Board of Gene Technology, Finland – Biosafety Risk Group 2 recommendations for work involving recombinant viruses (under the European law regarding genetically modified organisms) Scientific Networks – member 2006-2011 (active member 06-07). ENFIN- Enabling Systems Biology, European Network of Excellence. 2011-2014. Nordforsk network “Chromatin, Transcription and Cancer” organized from KI, Stockholm. 2009-2013. Biocenter Finland – Member of Viral Gene Transfer and Cell Therapy Network. 2013-2018. Research Programs Unit, Medical Faculty, UH – Board member


2007-2011. Co-founder, chairman and member in the Fin-QB3 joint steering committee. 2011-2015. Innovative Medicines Initiative – PREDECT. Founding member and WP leader of a consortium of 9 universities, 3 biotechnology companies and 9 pharmaceutical companies. 2010-2012. Biocenter Finland – Coordinator of LentiGEMM Emerging Technology Platform. 2013-2016. Biocenter Finland – Coordinator of Tissue Engineered Disease Models Emerging Technology Platform. 2013-2018. Vice-Director (shared) of Translational Cancer Biology Research Program, Medical Faculty, University of Helsinki. 2015-2016. Vice Director of Research Programs Unit, Medical Faculty, University of Helsinki. 2017-  HiLIFE – Coordinator of GoEditStem stem cell and functional genomics platform.


11/2002-present. Biomedicum Virus Core facility (Biocentrum Helsinki) – Founder and Director. 2006- present. Biomedicum Genomics and (2010 onwards) Biomedicum Functional Genomics Unit (www.biomedicumgenomics.fi) – Research Director. Biomedicum Functional Genomics Unit (Biomedicum Genomics Unit) is a comprehensive functional genomics service provider with Biocentrum Helsinki and Biocenter Finland affiliation. The Unit, which is co-directed by Klefström, has about 10 employees and 0,5 M€ annual cashflow. 07/2007-2009. Biomedicum Genomics Ltd – Chairman of the Board of Directors. 2009- present. Board member.