Taina Pihlajaniemi

Taina Pihlajaniemi

MD, PhD, Professor

Vice Rector (research)
Biomedicine, molecular biology

205 peer reviewed publications in international journals. The author has a h-index of 58.00. (WoS)

Biography

The extracellular matrix (ECM) provides structural support and guidance cues for cells, and is centrally involved in dynamic processes in organogenesis, organ function and diseases. Pihlajaniemi investigates the structural and regulatory roles of collagens, a key group of ECM proteins in supporting homeostasis and function of cells and tissues. She has discovered several of the collagen family of proteins and studied their biochemical and cellular properties as well as physiological and pathological relevance in animal models and human diseases. These include the structurally homologous collagen types XV and XVIII, forming the subfamily of multiplexins (multiple triple-helix domains with interruptions), and collagen XIII, identified as a transmembrane protein. Of special interest currently is investigating their roles and mechanisms in stem cell niches and malignant processes. The aim is to use the new knowledge to design novel bioassays and approaches to be used in cancer therapeutic.

Research interests

  • Extracellular matrix biology
  • Collagens
  • Stem cells and cancer
  • Neuromuscular junction
  • Fibrosis

Research funding (current)

Academy of Finland Project 2017-2021; Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation 2018-2022, Sigrid Juselius Foundation 2017-2020, the Finnish Cancer Foundation 2017-2019

Prizes and other recognition

  • Winner of the Orientation 100 ideas competition by Orion Corp. (shared) 2018
  • Commander of the Order of the Lion of Finland, 2015
  • Matti Äyräpää Prize 2013
  • The Science Prize of the State of Finland (shared) 1999
  • The Anders Jahre´s Nordic Medical Prize for Young Scientists 1994

Scientific merits

Professional and community activities

  • Vice Rector (President) research, University of Oulu, 2010-2019
  • Chairman, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of OUlu, 1991-2009
  • Scientific Director, Biocenter Oulu, 1996-2009
  • Founding Director, Biocenter Finland, 2006-2007
  • Director, Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in Cell-Extracellular Matrix Research (6 groups), 2012-2017
  • member of the Specialist group/Council for Research Infrastructures (FIRI) at Academy of Finland in 2012-2016
  • member of ERC Life Sciences panels in 2010-2015
  • member of EU´s ESFRI Thematic Working Group for Biological and Medical Sciences in 2004-2011
  • member and chair of the Board of Directors for the Center for Scientific Computing in 1998-2010
  • member of the Science and Technology Policy council of Finland (chaired by the Prime Minister) in 2005-2007
  • member of the Research Council of Health at the Academy of Finland in 1998-2003
  • Section Editor (extracellular matrix) for Cell & Tissue Research since 2000
  • Faculty 1000 Member and Contributor since 2001
  • scientific co-founder of FibroGen Inc
  • co-Chair of the Collagen Gordon Research Conference, USA, in 2019, and Chair in 2021

Selected publications

  • Zainul, Zarin; Heikkinen, Anne; Koivisto, Hennariikka; Rautalahti, Iina; Kallio, Mika; Lin, Shuo; Härönen, Heli; Norman, Oula; Rüegg, Markus A.; Tanila, Heikki; Pihlajaniemi, Taina (2018) Collagen XIII Is Required for Neuromuscular Synapse Regeneration and Functional Recovery after Peripheral Nerve Injury. - Journal of neuroscience 38 (17), 4243-4258 . [Original] [Self-archived]
  • Izzi, Valerio; Lakkala, Juho; Devarajan, Raman; Ruotsalainen, Heli; Savolainen, Eeva-Riitta; Koistinen, Pirjo; Heljasvaara, Ritva; Pihlajaniemi, Taina (2017) An extracellular matrix signature in leukemia precursor cells and acute myeloid leukemia. - Haematologica 102 (7), E245-E248 . [Original] [Self-archived]
  • Geraud, Cyrill; Koch, Philipp-Sebastian; Zierow, Johanna; Klapproth, Kay; Busch, Katrin; Olsavszky, Victor; Leibing, Thomas; Demory, Alexandra; Ulbrich, Friederike; Diett, Miriam; Singh, Sandhya; Sticht, Carsten; Breitkopf-Heinlein, Katja; Richter, Karsten; Karppinen, Sanna-Maria; Pihlajaniemi, Taina; Arnold, Bernd; Rodewald, Hans-Reimer; Augustin, Hellmut G.; Schledzewski, Kai; Goerdt, Sergij (2017) GATA4-dependent organ-specific endothelial differentiation controls liver development and embryonic hematopoiesis. - Journal of clinical investigation 127 (3), 1099-1114 . [Original]
  • Karppinen, S-M.; Honkanen, H-K.; Heljasvaara, R.; Riihilä, P.; Autio-Harmainen, H.; Sormunen, R.; Harjunen, V.; Väisänen, M-R.; Väisänen, T.; Hurskainen, T.; Tasanen-Määttä, K.; Kähäri, V-M.; Pihlajaniemi, T. (2016) Collagens XV and XVIII show different expression and localisation in cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma: type XV appears in tumour stroma while XVIII becomes up-regulated in tumour cells and lost from microvessels. - Experimental Dermatology 25 (5), 348-354 . [Original]
  • Aikio, Mari; Elamaa, Harri; Vicente, David; Izzi, Valerio; Kaur, Inderjeet; Seppinen, Lotta; Speedy, Helen E.; Kaminska, Dorota; Kuusisto, Sanna; Sormunen, Raija; Heljasvaara, Ritva; Jones, Emma L.; Muilu, Mikko; Jauhiainen, Matti; Pihlajamäki, Jussi; Savolainen, Markku J.; Shoulders, Carol C.; Pihlajaniemi, Taina (2014) Specific collagen XVIII isoforms promote adipose tissue accrual via mechanisms determining adipocyte number and affect fat deposition. - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111 (30), E3043-3052 . [Original]
  • Kinnunen Aino I, Sormunen Raija, Elamaa Harri, Seppinen Lotta, Miller Tyler R, Ninomiya Ysohifumi, Janmey Paul A, Pihlajaniemi Taina (2011) Lack of collagen XVIII long isoforms affects kidney podocytes, whereas the short form is needed in the proximal tubular basement membrane. - Journal of biological chemistry 286 (10), 7755-7764 . [Original]
  • Rasi Karolina, Piuhola Jarkko, Czabanka Marcus, Sormunen Raija, Ilves Mika, Leskinen Hanna, Rysä Jaana, Kerkelä Risto, Janmey Paul, Heljasvaara Ritva, Peuhkurinen Keijo, Vuolteenaho Olli, Ruskoaho Heikki, Vajkoczy Peter, Pihlajaniemi Taina, Eklund Lauri (2010) Collagen XV is necessary for modeling of the extracellular matrix and its deficiency predisposes to cardiomyopathy. - Circulation Research 107, 1241-1252 .
  • Latvanlehto Anne, Fox Michael,Sormunen Raija,Tu Hongmin,Oikarainen Tuomo,Koski Anu,Naumenko Nikolay,Shakirzyanova Anastasia, Kallio Mika, Ilves Mika, Giniatullin Rashid,Sanes Joshua,Pihlajaniemi Taina (2010) Muscle-derived collagen XIII regulates maturation of the skeletal neuromuscular junction.. - Journal of neuroscience 30, 12230-12241
  • Brideau, Gaelle; Mäkinen, Markus J.; Elamaa, Harri; Tu, Hongmin; Nilsson, G.; Alitalo, K.; Pihlajaniemi, Taina & Heljasvaara, Ritva (2007) Endostatin overexpression inhibits lymphangiogenesis and lymph node metastasis in mice. - Cancer Research 67, 11528-11535
  • Fukai, N.; Eklund, Lauri; Marneros, A. G.; Oh, S. P.; Keene, D. R.; Tamarkin, L.; Niemelä, Merja; Ilves, Mika; Li, E.; Pihlajaniemi, Taina & Olsen, B. R. (2002) Lack of collagen XVIII/endostatin results in eye abnormalities. - EMBO Journal 21 (7), 1535-1544
  • Eklund, Lauri; Piuhola, Jarkko; Komulainen, J.; Sormunen, R.; Ongvarrasopone, C.; Fässler, R.; Muona, Anu; Ilves, Mika; Ruskoaho, Heikki; Takala, T. E. S. & Pihlajaniemi, Taina (2001) Lack of type XV collagen causes a skeletal myopathy and cardiovascular defects in mice. - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 98, 1194-1199

Thesis supervisions

  • Supervisor or co-supervisor of 43 PhD or MD-PhD theses to completion.

Research visits

  • University of Ulm, Germany

    Hans Kupczyk Guest Professor, 2006

     

  • University of Medicine and Dentistry - Rutgers Medical School, Piscataway, N.J., USA

    Post-doctoral fellow, 1982-1985