Vascular Biology (Laakkonen)

Research group

** Interested in cardiovascular diseases and how to improve their treatment?
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(updated 22.4.2021) **

'From basic science to translational impact.'
The goal of our junior research group is to improve therapeutics and diagnostics of cardiovascular diseases by understanding the biology behind the diseases. The main focus is in studying vascular anomalies and aortic aneurysms. Particularly genetics, cell-cell interaction and angioparacrine mediators are studied. We also develop therapeutics to modulate neovessel growth.

Our projects:
Causal effects of vascular malformations
Unraveling mechanisms of ascending aortic dilatation
Hippo signalling pathway in vascular diseases
Novel targets in treatment of myocardial ischemia

Our group:
PI Johanna Laakkonen
Academy Research Fellow,
PhD, Adjunct Professor (Molecular Medicine)
A.I. Virtanen Institute

PhD student, M.Sc., Henna Ilmonen
PhD student, M.Sc., Miika Kiema
PhD student, M.Sc., Heidi Pulkkinen
Medical student Emma Luoto
Medical student Heta Rasinkangas

Academy of Finland’s Flagship Programme GeneCellNano (, Academy Research Fellow, Academy of Finland, Finnish Foundation of Cardiovascular Research, The Finnish Cultural Foundation, The Finnish Cultural Foundation Regional Fund North Savo

Research group description

Introducing image of the group Vascular Biology (Laakkonen)

From left to right: Miika Kiema, Emma Luoto, Heidi Pulkkinen, Henna Ilmonen and Johanna Laakkonen.

Selected, recent publications y.2020-
1) PULKKINEN, H.H., Kiema, M., …, Laakkonen J.P. BMP6/TAZ-Hippo signaling modulates angiogenesis and endothelial cell response to VEGF.
Angiogenesis (Oct, 2020). 2) HSIN-FU LIU O, Kiema M, Beter M, Ylä-Herttuala S, Laakkonen JP, Kaikkonen MU. Hypoxia-Mediated Regulation of Histone Demethylases Affects Angiogenesis-Associated Functions in Endothelial Cells. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2020 Sep. 3) LAAKKONEN J.P., Ylä-Herttuala S. Chapter in book: Emerging technologies for heart diseases. Volume 2: Treatments for Myocardial Ischemia and Arrhythmias. 1st edition. Chapter: Gene and protein therapy approaches to cardiac neovascularization and protection from ischemia. Editor: Udi Nussinovitch. Elsevier Publishing Group. 2020.  4) TIRRONEN A, Downes NL, Huusko J, Laakkonen JP, Tuomainen T, Tavi P, Hedman M, Ylä-Herttuala S. The Ablation of VEGFR-1 Signaling Promotes Pressure Overload-Induced Cardiac Dysfunction and Sudden Death. Biomolecules 2021. Mar 17;11(3):452. 5) MOREAU PR, Bosch VM, Bouvy-Liivrand M, Õunap K, Örd T, Pulkkinen HH, Pölönen P, Heinäniemi M, Ylä-Herttuala S, Laakkonen JP, Linna-Kuosmanen S, Kaikkonen MU. Profiling of primary and mature miRNA expression in atherosclerosis associated cell types (accepted to ATVB, 2021).


    Cover image in Angiogenesis journal

    Our cover image in a recent issue of Angiogenesis journal (y. 2021). In the image, you can see cells that have formed tubes (i.e. points of the star) mimicking blood vessel formation.

Group members - UEF

Other group members

  • Heta Rasinkangas
    Heta Rasinkangas
  • Emma-Sofia Luoto
    Emma-Sofia Luoto

Collaboration at UEF

Cooperation partners


Publications by the research group members