Saarakkala Simo

DIOS-group (Diagnostics of Osteoarthritis)


Research unit: Medical Imaging, Physics and Technology (MIPT)


Group leader

Professor Simo Saarakkala (PhD), ERC Starting Grantee

More about the research of professor Simo Saarakkala.


What do we do

Dr. Saarakkala’s DIOS (Diagnostics of Osteoarthritis) group is focusing on developing novel and innovative clinical diagnostic and follow-up methods for early OA. Specifically, non-invasive ultrasound imaging as well as thermal, acoustic and kinematic measurements are currently under investigation and development in the group. Furthermore, nowadays digital image analysis methods enable extraction of new information from many traditional clinical imaging modalities of OA, e.g., conventional radiography, computed tomography (CT), ultrasound imaging, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The group is developing quantitative in vivo image analysis methods for evaluating the structure and composition of articular cartilage and subchondral bone from conventional clinical imaging modalities. The ambitious ultimate goal would be to develop automated image analysis and classification algorithms that would enhance the sensitivity of the current clinical imaging methods and offer a prediction for the clinical progression of OA.

Despite intensive research worldwide, pathogenesis of OA at tissue level is poorly understood. The group is investigating the early pathological changes in articular cartilage, subchondral bone and meniscus in vitro and in situ using animal and human tissue samples. Conventional histological and immunohistochemical staining methods, as well as modern Fourier-Transform Infrared (FTIR) and Raman imaging techniques, are applied in the group to characterize structural and compositional osteoarthritic changes from tissue sections. Furthermore, the group is actively developing biomedical imaging techniques suitable for quantitative 3D imaging of tissue samples. Specifically, micro/nano-CT imaging techniques are investigated in the group. These techniques enable 3D imaging of tissue structure and composition in different stages of OA in micro/nanometer scale, which significantly improves our understanding of pathogenesis of OA. 


Our team

Post doc researchers

PhD students

Other staff

  • Tuomas Frondelius, research assistant
  • Sami Kauppinen, research assistant
  • Santeri Rytky, research assistant
  • Jesse Lohela, research assistant
  • Bijay Shakya, research assistant
  • Iivari Kanninen, research assistant
  • Laura Tervala, research assistant
  • Linda Rantamaa, research assistant
  • Terhimaria Kaski, research assistant
  • Ville Karjalainen, research assistant
  • Hanna Hautamäki, research assistant
  • Tarja Huhta, laboratory technician

ERC Project members

  • Heikki Nieminen, PhD, senior research fellow
  • Tuomo Ylitalo, MSc, PhD student


Where are we headed

The main goal in the future is to renew the diagnostic criteria of osteoarthritis both at the clinical level and at the histopathological level. In particular, the group aims to develop individual diagnostics by creating a statistical prediction models based on large-scale patient and tissue sample populations.


Our main collaborators


Professor Martin Englund, Lund University, Sweden
Professor Kenneth PH Pritzker, University of Toronto, Canada
Associate Professor Edwin Oei, Erasmus MC Rotterdam, Netherlands
Associate Professor Ashvin Thambyah, University of Auckland, New Zealand


Professor Petri Lehenkari, University of Oulu
Professor Miika T Nieminen, University of Oulu
Professor Rami K Korhonen, University of Eastern Finland
Professor Juha Töyräs, University of Eastern Finland
Professor Heikki Kröger, University of Eastern Finland


How to find us

Research Unit of Medical Imaging, Physics and Technology
Faculty of Medicine
University of Oulu
If you are interested in working or collaborating with this research group, please contact Meri Ojakangas.

Last updated: 9.7.2019