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Quantitative cell biology

Research group
01.10.2020 -
Institute of Biomedicine, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences


In the Quantitative Cell Biology laboratory, we study the biology of cells through the prism of quantitative sciences. We use cutting edge quantitative bio-imaging tools to count biomolecules such as proteins or mRNAs, measure their interactions, clustering or quantify their motion in live cells of any organism. We develop our own software tools to analyze this data. We use biochemistry, genetics and molecular/cell biological methods to decipher how genetic or epigenetic perturbations affect our “in cellulo” quantitative measurements. Then, we integrate this wealth of quantitative data to parametrize predictive mathematical models of complex, intricate cellular processes. We are in particular fascinated by the outstanding questions of how a cell takes the decision to divide into two cells, this so peculiar trait of living things. How did evolution shape cell division cycle pathways to adjust the biophysical features of each cell type to its particular functions or environment? And why cells sometimes (often!) decide NOT to divide, but instead remain quiescent, differentiate or commit suicide? Those simple fundamental questions are extremely relevant to many biomedical challenges including the limited efficiency of current anti-cancer therapeutic approaches. In particular, we are studying how the decisions to divide, to differentiate, or to remain quiescent are coordinated at the molecular level in lymphocytes and cardiomyocytes. On the medium term, our goals are to understand in depth how chromosomal translocations common in Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) favor the decision to proliferate over normal differentiation, and to find druggable molecular targets to re-establish cardiomyocytes division to repair the cardiac muscle post-injury.



Lab News

2023-08-17: Our review paper on Quantitative Bio-Imaging (QBI) out today in Current Opinions!
Have a look to it if, like us, you believe that it is useful to measure quantitative parameters of proteins in live cells….
The figure below shows the cross-brightness (a quantitative metric of protein binding) of DLC2 and GKAP in transfected hippocampal neurons in absence (a) or presence (b) of a competitor peptide. The Bcc goes down a lot in presence of the peptide, indicating that it disrupts the DLC2-GKAP interaction. This data can, under certain conditions, be used to estimate Kds in live cells!

2023-08-02: Following our publication over the past few months of two   articles on the role of fatty acids in inflammation (collaboration with Petteri Nieminen, there will be student internships openings in our group in 2023-2024 to work on these topics. If you are interested in bioinformatics and/or fatty acids and inflammation, or if you just like the figure below because you like circles and shaded colors, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

2023-07-05: Welcome to Gabriela who’s coming from Poland to do an Erasmus summer internship with us! Caïn and Ilona will build on their summer internships to start respectively M.Sc. and B.Sc. theses on related projects.

2023-03-21: Welcome to Caïn and Ilona who will be doing summer internships in the group, and to Eveliina, Jonne and Petra who will be devoting their BSc, MSc and MSc theses to our projects and research questions :). Best of luck to you all for your experiments and models development!

2023-03-08: Our collaborative project with Adrian Bird’s group in Edinburgh just out in Scientific Reports! Check it out. It has been very enriching to contribute to the development of this Nanoluc assay to identify compounds affecting the MeCP2-TBL1 interaction (and discover new Rett syndrome/Autism treatment). We have learn a lot of very cool chemistry in the process …


2022-11-06: Our research featured on the Lasten Syöpäsäätiö Väre website! Thanks to them for their support

2022-11-04: Welcome to Bernardo, a post-doctoral researcher who is going to investigate the transitions between cellular states in lymphocytic cell lines at the interface between our group and Merja Heinäniemi’s Systems Genomics groups!

2022-10-10: Welcome to Florencia who is joining the group for her Ph.D.! Florencia will work on deciphering the molecular mechanisms of cell size control and cell size homeostasis across organisms. An important, longstanding question that still lack a clear answer at the systems level!

2022-10-10: Our hypothesis and theory paper about how correcting cancer associated nuclear size changes could help reducing metastasis is out today in Frontiers Cell and Developmental Biology. Check it out!

2022-08-25: Welcome to Aya (M.Sc. in applied Physics) who is joining the group in September to work on the mathematical modeling of the mammalian cell cycle. Quite a challenge!

2022-07-16: Our short research note about Whi5 synthesis in G1 cells is out now in BMC Research Notes: https://rdcu.be/cRMrF

2022-06-30: Many thanks to the Väre lasten syöpä säätiö for funding our project on leukemic cells!

2022-06-16: If you are a student/researcher interested in interdisciplinary science in general (and in what we’re trying do achieve here in the QCB group in particular), we have two positions openings at the moment: a PhD studentship:

and a postdoctoral/project researcher position:

2 other positions are open to bioinformaticians in our collaborators’ labs and UEF Biomedicine facilities:


We’re welcoming applicants with a broad range of profiles!


2022-05-30: Many thanks to the Academy of Finland for funding our project on cell size control, and featuring this project in their PR. Now we have to be up to this trust!

2022-05-08: Welcome to Nkiruka and Teemu who are joining the group for the summer!

2022-05-01: Today’s issue of Molecular Biology of the Cell features two studies with apparently conflicting results: our work https://www.molbiolcell.org/doi/10.1091/mbc.E21-07-0349, and the work by Schmoller et al. https://www.molbiolcell.org/doi/10.1091/mbc.E21-01-0029 . Things will probably become clearer with time and more datasets addressing quantitatively the commitment to division at the G1/S transition at the cell cycle. Only thing we can say is that we’ve done our best to approach very carefully the question of Whi5/Rb dilution in G1, with all the tools we had at hand!

Nuclear Whi5 concentration vs time in single cells


2022-04-27: Our collaborative work with Kirsi Rilla’s group has just been published today in Frontiers in Oncology!

Thanks to Kirsi and Niina for inviting us to be part of this! There is still a lot to discover about collective cell motion, and there is no doubt quantitative analysis methods are required. Exciting times!


2022-01-04: out today! Our side-project paper on the correlations between human mobility restrictions and SARS-CoV-2 spread is now accessible from the JPMPH website:
Thanks Mounir Ould Setti for initiating this! I think we learned in this study that simple things are often not as simple as they look… but I guess the “reciprocal” is true as well (complex things might not be that complex)


2022-03-04: today PLoS Biology published our work on yeast cell adaptation to poor nitrogen conditions, check out the summary on the link below!


2022-02-25: Our manuscript just out in ACS chem. biol. also featured on UEF main page:


2022-02-24: Some words about our research on the University of Edinburgh’s webpage:


2022-01-15: Welcome to Sanna and Mustafa!



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