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Cell Biology – research and personnel

Cell Biology – research and personnel

Researchers at the division of cell biology investigate many of the most central functions of cells, such as signaling within and between cells, cell division and death, stress responses and inflammation. This basic research is tightly linked to understanding many human diseases such as cancer, muscle diseases, inflammatory diseases and diabetes.

The main research focus areas at Cell Biology at Åbo Akademi University are cell stress, survival and cell death, cellular decision-making processes, regulation of gene expression, the role of the cytoskeleton in normal and pathological processes, the relationship between inflammatory processes and tissue damage, tissue regeneration and degeneration. This basic research is tightly linked to understanding many human diseases such as cancer, muscle diseases, inflammatory diseases and diabetes. We use advanced methods to visualize cells and tissues, and the bioimaging possibilities at Åbo Akademi University are world-class. Cell Biology is also part of the Åbo Akademi University research profil in drug development and diagnostics, which is a joint focus area for the universities in Turku.

The Åbo Akademi University life sciences laboratories are active on the Kupittaa campus together with the life sciences and medical researchers from University of Turku and Turku University Hospital. Research in life sciences at Åbo Akademi University is supported by strong organizations such as BioCity Turku and Health Campus Turku, which strengthen the opportunities for collaboration and innovation on our campus. We also have access to advanced state of the art infrastructure through Turku Bioscience, Turku BioImaging and EuroBioimaging.

Cell Mech (Center of Excellence in Cellular Mechanostasis) logo

The ÅAU Center of Excellence project CellMech (Center of Excellence in Cellular Mechanostasis) is led by Cecilia Sahlgren, Professor in Cell Biology. CellMech studies how mechanical stress that generates from alterations in the blood flow or tissue stiffness (” tissue fibrosis”) effects the functions of cells and tissues. The research within CellMech is specifically focused on obtaining a deeper knowledge of how cells respond to mechanical stress at a molecular level, and, how the cellular mechanisms is regulated by mechanical stimuli. Through the studies, our researchers aim to profoundly contribute to the knowledge in the field of mechanomedicine regarding stimulation of tissue repair and therapies for diseases such as chronic wounds, cardiovascular diseases, and, chronic inflammation that can, if left untreated, cause cancer.


Research groups and researchers

The Cell Fate Lab
Professor Cecilia Sahlgren

The Cell Stress Lab
Professor Lea Sistonen

The Cytoskeletal and survival signaling Lab
Professor John Eriksson

The Epithelial Biology Lab
Associate Professor Diana Toivola

The Inflammatory Signalling Lab
Senior university Lecturer, docent Annika Meinander

Cell migration lab 
Project leader Guillaume Jacquemet

Cellular microenvironment lab
University Lecturer Malin Åkerfelt

Viral Oncogenesis Research Lab
Principal Investigator Silvia Gramolelli



Tiina Salminen
Head of Subject Cluster, Professor in Biochemistry

Cecilia Sahlgren

Lea Sistonen

John Eriksson
Professor, Director for Turku Bioscience

Diana Toivola
Associate professor in Biology

Annika Meinander
Docent, Senior University Lecturer in Molecular Genetics

Eva Henriksson
University Lecturer

Malin Åkerfelt
University Lecturer

Guillaume Jacquemet
Principal Investigator and Docent in Cell Biology

Eleanor Coffey
Docent, Research Director



Catharina Alam
Post doc researcher

Daniel Antfolk
Post doc researcher

Navid Delshad
Project researcher

Gautier Follain
Post doc researcher

Kati Kemppainen
Project coordinator

Preethy Paul
Post doc researcher

Lauri Pollari
Post doc researcher

Senthil Kumar Rajendra
Post doc researcher

Oscar Stassen
Post doc researcher

Giulia Sultana
Project researcher

Dado Tokic
Project coordinator

Elenaé Vácquez-Ulloa
Post doc researcher

Lorenza Cutrone
Research Associate


Doctoral students
Anna Aalto
Hend Abelkader
Sarah Baghestani
Leila Coelho Rato
Alejandro Da Silva
William Eccleshall
Samu Himanen
Emilia Holm
Henrik Hästbacka
Alia Joko
Christa Kietz
Ida Laiho
Taru Lassila
Kai-Lan Lin (laboratory technician)
Jens Luoto
Aravind Kumar Mohan
Ponnuswamy Mohanasundaram
Rasmus Niemi
Joel Nyström
Valeriy Paramonov
Marjaana Parikainen
Sepideh Parvanian
Jenny Pessa
Anna Popovic
Mikael Puustinen
Sami Sanlidag
Michael Santos Silva
Amandine Schmit
Carl-Gustav Stenwall
Freddy Suarez-Rodriguez
Mina Tayyab
Laura Tiemeijer
Nicole van Engeland
Noora Virtanen
Peiru Yang

Other personnel

Dado Tokic
Coordinator, Turku BioImaging

Joanna Pylvänäinen
Coordinator, Turku BioImaging, BIMA


Illustration till biovetenskapernas doktornadprogram


Updated 1.11.2023