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This is HaikaLab

We study primary immuno-oncology (IO) and targeted therapy resistance mechanisms & aim to discover more durable immuno- and targeted therapy combinations for lung cancer patients


Lab Members
Meet our brilliant scientists 🔬


Heidi Haikala, PhD,
Principal Investigator


"I did my PhD in the University of Helsinki, after which I worked as a postdoc in Dana-Farber Cancer Institute & Harvard Medical School. In DFCI, I developed new targeted therapy strategies to prevent EGFR inhibitor resistance in lung cancer.

One of our recent findings led to a clinical trial in lung cancer patients. 

My own lab studies how to target primary (immuno)therapy resistance and discovers new combination therapies for lung cancer.

Science communication, music & winter sports are close to my heart! "



Bassel Alsaed,
PhD Researcher

" I'm studying immunotherapy resistance in lung cancer using 3D co-cultures. This includes culturing patient-derived organoids with matched T cells with or without immunotherapies (e.g., checkpoint inhibitors). The aim of the study is to figure out new mechanisms of immunotherapy resistance and optimize an easy-to-use screening platform for patient-derived tissues.

I also like (all) good food, especially the swedish semla!"



Nina Bobik,
Lab Manager

"I completed a Master’s degree in Molecular Biology at the University of Vienna and subsequently worked on characterizing virus samples and cell lines in an Austrian biotech company. I recently completed a second Master’s degree in Translational Medicine at the University of Helsinki. In my project, I’m working with patient-derived tumor organoids and optimizing drug testing pipelines using patient's own tumor cells.

In my free time, I enjoy video games, the Finnish nature and creative writing."



Elena Kremneva, PhD,
Research Coordinator

"I did my PhD in A.N. Bach Institute of Biochemistry (Moscow, Russia), after which I worked as postdoctoral researcher in Neuroscience Centre and Institute of Biotechnology at University of Helsinki. My research was focused on actin-binding proteins participating in regulation and maintenance of actin cytoskeleton inside muscle and non-muscle cells. Solving problems and setting up new methods are of my interest. Outside work, I enjoy reading, walking and spending time with my family."



Lassi Viitala, MSc, EMBA,
Commercial Champion 

” I have over a decade of experience with various technology startups ranging across the full spectrum of operations and leadership. The previous one was operational in seven countries and was sold to a global leader after reaching 10 MEUR revenue in four years. I have degrees in Executive MBA focusing on strategy and finance as well as Master of Science in measurement electronics. I’m passionate about helping impactful businesses in creating a better tomorrow for us all.



Linh Lin,
MSc Student

"I'm completing my Master’s degree in Genetics and Molecular Biosciences in the University of Helsinki, specializing in Molecular and Analytical Health Biosciences. I gained interest in translational medicine during my  studies. 

In the lab I study the epigenetic and protein level regulators of EGFR expression in lung cancer, by using CRISPR and other genetic screening methods.

Dancing, reading and eating delicious food are my favorite activities!"



Ella Valentina Tallqvist,
Translational  Medicine Student

"I did my Bachelor’s degree in molecular biosciences in Viikki campus here in Helsinki and I'm now continuing my studies at the University of Helsinki’s translational medicine master’s program. In my project I am studying how cultured endothelial cells can be used in mimicking the blood vessels for trafficking/migration studies. Additionally, I am a helping hand in our other projects. In my free time I always enjoy activities involving food and long walk by the sea."



Lilja Lahtinen,
Research Assistant, MSc

"I did my master’s degree in neuroscience at the University of Helsinki. My job in the lab is to process patient-derived tumor samples and use them to culture 3D organoids. I maintain our cell lines and prepare them for DNA sequencing, co-culture experiments, and more. In my free time you can often find me baking, playing music, or enjoying the outdoors!" 



Hilma Mutanen,
MD Student

"I'm a medical student in the University of Helsinki. As a part of my studies I'm now working on a project where I'm studying how a novel biomarker of EGFR therapy response might be connected to the  patient's treatment and its outcome.
Outside of my studies I enjoy listening to music, and playing it myself, or spending time in the outdoors."


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Amanda Kurka,
MD Student

"I’m a medical student and part of the MD PhD Programme of the Faculty of Medicine under University of Helsinki. I did my first rotation in this group during the summer and I am currently doing IHC staining for patient lung cancer tissues looking at various biomarkers for drug response. In my free time I love to read a good book or enjoy the outdoors. Of course, I like to participate in many student hobbies as well!"


HaikaLab buddies

Click to learn more about our friends

Test Tubes


Petri Dishes




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