Keynote speakers

Pavel Tomancak

Research Group Leader, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Germany

Title of talk: Evolution of Morphogenesis

Abstract: I will describe ongoing projects aiming at understanding how the dynamic interplay between gene regulation and tissue mechanics during developmental morphogenesis evolved.

Pavel Tomancak in short: Dr. Tomancak did his undergraduate studies at the Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic before completing his Ph.D. in developmental biology at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany. He conducted his postdoctoral work at the University of California, Berkeley and is currently a research group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany. Dr. Tomancak’s laboratory has been using genomics approaches to investigate the role of tissue specific gene expression regulation in development and evolution of Drosophila embryos. His laboratory has developed molecular, imaging, and image analysis approaches (Fiji project) to describe the dynamic patterns of gene expression during development with high resolution in space and time, making use of SPIM technology (OpenSPIM) as a cornerstone of their research. Currently, the Tomancak lab is expanding the range of model species to study by quantitative imaging methods in order to understand the evolution of morphogenesis.

Teresa Coque

Senior Scientist, Ramón y Cajal Institute for Health Research, Spain

Title of talk: Antimicrobial Resistance in the Global Health Network: “Known Unknowns” and Challenges for Efficient Responses in the 21st Century

Abstract: AMR has been a public health priority for decades. In 2019, the WHO included AMR as one of the top ten threats to global health in the 21st century. Nowadays, all international organizations stated that AMR should be approached from the perspectives of One-Health and Global Health but the implementation of efficient measures in different socioeconomic and geopolitical timeframes remains a major challenge. Available knowledge about AMR is mostly based on information obtained from large healthcare institutions in high-income countries and is scattered in studies across various fields, focused on patient safety (infectious diseases), transmission pathways and pathogen reservoirs (molecular epidemiology), the extent of the problem at a population level (public health), their management and cost (health economics), cultural issues (community psychology), and events associated with historical periods (history of science). However, a comprehensive vision between the different environmental and socioeconomic aspects that facilitate the development, spread, and evolution of AMR and various stakeholders (patients, clinicians, public health professionals, scientists, economic sectors, and funding agencies) is missing. In this talk, we will discuss the disparities and similarities between distinct stakeholders’ objectives and the gaps and challenges of combatting AMR at various levels. We will review the “known unknowns” about how to analyze the heterogeneities of hosts, microbes, and spatial patches in different OneHealth sectors, the role of surrounding ecosystems, and the challenges they represent for mitigate the effects of AMR in health.

Teresa Coque in short: M. Coque, Ph.D., graduated as a pharmacist and clinical biochemist and received her​  Ph.D. in medical microbiology from the​ Complutense University of Madrid (Spain). A​ ​5y postdoctoral training at the​ University of Texas at Houston (USA) gave her a background in molecular epidemiology and genetics of antibiotic resistance. S​ince 2000, s​he is a Senior​ Scientist at the ​​Ramón y Cajal Institute for​ Health Research​ (IRYCIS)​ in Madrid leading a research group (www.ecoevobiome.org). Her special interests and expertise include molecular epidemiology, evolutionary biology, and microbial ecology, with an emphasis on the genetic bases for transmission of antibiotic resistance and the adaptation of commensal and pathogenic bacteria to different hosts. She has published +190 papers, special issues, and chapters, and participated in +12 EU projects (6/7EUFP, H2020, JPIAMR). TMCis/has been a member of committtees of different agencies​ (JPIAMR, WHO​/FAO​, ​UNEP, ​EFSA, JRC-EU​)​, and regularly participates in evaluation panels of national and international research-funded programs in the field of microbiology and infectious diseases and Global Health.

Kati Kristiansson

Director of Research and Development for the Wellbeing Services County of Pirkanmaa

Title of talk: Collaborative Synergy: Tampere University Hospital and Tampere University Empowering Clinical Research

Abstract: The topic of this talk is to examine the importance of collaboration between Tampere University Hospital and Tampere University and how it enables the harnessing of the best potential for clinical research. This will include a brief look at the milestones and achievements that have emerged from their past cooperation, highlighting the significance of their partnership in the field of clinical research. It will present benefits of their existing partnership in research, and knowledge sharing, and outline the strategic goals and objectives that Tampere University Hospital and Tampere University have set for themselves, as well as any upcoming projects, research endeavors, or innovations on the horizon.

Kati Kristiansson in short: Kati Kristiansson holds the position of the Director of Research and Development for the Wellbeing Services County of Pirkanmaa. Prior to this role, she pursued an academic career in the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare as a dedicated researcher in the field of genomics and common complex diseases. With her transition to the role of Director of Research and Development, she now applies her academic insights and research experience, as well as her professional qualification in leadership, to lead the department of Research, Development, Innovations, and Education of the Wellbeing Services County.

Research Highlights speakers from MET

Xin Lai

Assistant Professor (tenure track), Health Data Sciences

Title of talk: Cooperative MicroRNA Therapeutics in Cancer

Abstract: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short, non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. A miRNA can potentially bind many mRNAs, thereby affecting cancer genes and the activity of relevant pathways. miRNA therapeutics can harness this evolutionarily conserved mechanism for the coordinated gene regulation and thus restoring normal phenotypes in cancer cells. However, the promiscuous binding of miRNAs can provoke off-target effects caused by high-dose treatments. Hence, it is desirable to develop miRNA therapeutics with increased specificity and efficacy. To achieve that, we propose the concept of miRNA cooperativity to exert synergistic repression on target genes, thus reducing the undesired effects of miRNAs. We demonstrate the effectiveness of cooperating miRNAs in reducing the chemoresistance of tumors and improving the immunogenic potency of dendritic cells for immunotherapy. Our work shows the potential of miRNAs as monotherapy or adjuvant therapy in cancer.

Xin Lai in short: Dr. Xin Lai is currently an Assistant Professor at Tampere University. He received his Ph.D. in Systems Biology from Olaf Wolkenhauer’s lab at the University of Rostock in 2013. He then became a research fellow and worked in Julio Vera’s lab at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg until 2023. His research uses methods from biomathematics and bioinformatics to analyse biomedical data. His interests broadened to artificial intelligence, network biology, and mathematical modelling. More than 10 years of collaboration with experimental and clinical researchers led him to realize the importance of a systematic and integrative approach to tackle biomedical challenges. He now leads a team conducting research in the dynamic field of medical systems biology.

Alfonso Urbanucci

Senior Research Fellow

Title of talk: Understanding the metastatic potential of single prostate cancer cells

Abstract: Dr Urbanucci will be talking about how modelling prostate tumor immune microenvironment could help to understand the role of immune cells in shaping tumor behavior. Further, the talk will touch upon the use of transcriptional signatures derived from studies of single cells in prostate cancer specimens as a footprint for characterization the tumor ability to relapse and inform clinical decision making.

Alfonso Urbanucci in short: Alfonso Urbanucci is a senior research fellow of the Institute of Advanced Studies and a group leader within the Prostate Cancer Research Center at MET. He is also a project group leader at the Department of Tumor Biology, Institute for Cancer Research at the Oslo University Hospital, and Associate Investigator of the Norwegian Center for Molecular Medicine (EMBL partnership).

Minni Änkö

Associate Professor (tenure track), Molecular biology

Title of talk: RNA – the Swizz knife of biomedicine

Abstract: Cellular RNAs come in many shapes and forms, and are critical regulatory points in gene expression. The recent breakthroughs in mRNA vaccines have highlighted the clinical utility of RNA-based therapies. The Functional RNAomics group aims to crack the cellular RNA code and gain critical insights into how aberrations in the RNA machinery result in genetic disorders and cancer. I will present our current work on the significance of RNA folding in oncogenic gene expression or the potential of RNA structures as therapeutic targets.

Minni in short: Minni joined Tampere University as a tenure track professor in January 2022. She heads the Functional RNAomics group in MET. She also holds an appointment at the Hudson Institute in Melbourne. Minni is a passionate ambassador of RNA research, mentoring budding RNA researchers internationally and convening the local RNA Salon Finland (fiRNA).

Minna Hankaniemi

Academy Research Fellow

Title of talk: An overview to vaccine development against pandemic viruses

Abstract: The focus and main interest of our group is the establishment of powerful vaccine platforms against pathogens with pandemic potential. We employ protein-based modern vaccine formulae and platforms (mainly virus-like particles, VLPs and recombinant proteins), that would be widely applicable for current and new emerging pathogens. Currently, we focus on vaccine development against pandemic viruses. In addition to vaccine technology development and preclinical analyses, we actively set up facilities, infrastructure, and research methodology at Tampere University. Currently we are setting up preclinical infection laboratories, more advanced virus work laboratories as well as GMP-grade facility for the production, purification and characterization of vaccines and other biologicals. I will describe our ongoing projects and methodology briefly.

Minna Hankaniemi in short: Minna gained her PhD in biomedicine from Helsinki University in 2013, and she has more than 20 years of experience in vaccine development, manufacturing and quality control from academia and several Finnish companies. She established the Virology and Vaccine Immunology group at Tampere University in 2022, and ccurrently she heads Business Finland funded Research to Business project on coronavirus vaccine development and holds Academy Research Fellow position. The aim of the Academy of Finland project is to produce universal virus-like particle vaccine against human enteroviruses. Minna is passionate about effective and scalable vaccine technology research and development. Also, she aims to raise the impact and awareness of vaccine research with her team.

Speakers at the Career Event

Petteri Uusimaa

CTO, Modulight

Modulight Corporation is an ISO9001:2015, ISO14001:2015 and ISO13485:2016 certified semiconductor and laser technology company listed in NASDAQ First North. Modulight designs and manufactures lasers and optics for personalized medicine and better life. We provide biomedical lasers for oncology, genetics and ophthalmology, supporting laser solutions like system integration service and laser design and manufacturing. Our own semiconductor laser chip fab in Tampere, Finland allows us to truly guarantee supply, change control and tailor-made solutions. We have over 20 years’ experience in designing and manufacturing FDA & CE approved lasers. www.modulight.com

Petteri Uusimaa (Founder & CTO) holds a PhD in semiconductor physics from Tampere University of Technology. He has co-authored >100 international scientific articles and holds multiple patens in the fields of semiconductors and biomedical devices. Since 1997, Petteri has been managing semiconductor sales to multinational companies and was a Founder and CEO of Modulight until 2019 when he took the position of Chief Technology Officer. He has been a member of Modulight board since incorporating the company in 2000 until 2023. Petteri has served full 6 years in EPIC BoD and is currently member of the EPIC Medical committee and CLEO-JCA. In 2022 he was nominated as the CTO of the year in Finland.

Hanna Kankkonen

Senior Scientist, Fimea

The Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea is the national competent authority for regulating pharmaceuticals. Fimea operates under the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and is in charge of regulating medicines, medical devices, blood and tissue products. In addition, Fimea is charged with research and development tasks, producing and disseminating medicinal information to improve the effectiveness of pharmaceutical services and pharmacotherapies. Fimea is also part of the European Medicines Regulatory network which, in addition to the European Commission and the European Medicines Agency, also comprises the national competent authorities.


Dr Hanna Kankkonen holds a PhD in molecular medicine from the University of Kuopio. During her working career, Hanna has worked as a researcher at the universities of Tampere and Kuopio and at the University of San Diego in California. Her research focused on the development of virus-mediated gene transfer vectors and gene therapies. Hanna has also worked as the production manager and quality manager of a clinical multi-tissue bank and cell therapy unit, and as a quality and regulatory specialist at the University of Tampere. Since 2019 Hanna has worked as a quality assessor of biological medicines in Fimea.

Elina Wiik

Country Medical Director, Novartis

Kirsti Ala-Mutka

Policy Officer, European Commission, DG GROW

European Commission DG GROW:  The European Commission is divided into Directorate-Generals (DGs), which are responsible for specific policy areas and functions within the European Commission, the executive branch of the EU. DGs develop, implement and manage EU policies, legislation and funding programmes. The Commission’s Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) is responsible for EU policy on the single market, industry, entrepreneurship and small businesses.

Dr Tech Kirsti Ala-Mutka will discuss different career opportunities in the European Commission and related agencies for a person with research background. She has worked in several roles for the EC: as an evaluator for EU project proposals (for DG INFSO), as mid-term/final project reviewer for EU projects (for EACEA), as an EC project manager for FP7 projects (at DG INFSO/DG CONNECT), as a work topic and cross-topics issue coordinator for H2020 work programmes (at DG INFSO/DG CONNECT), and as a developer and implementer of the Dissemination and Exploitation strategy for Horizon 2020 (at DG RTD). Currently she works with industrial policies, to which research and innovation should feed in.