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Markus Vähä-Koskela


Research activity per year

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Personal profile

Curriculum vitae

Language skills

Swedish (mother tongue), finnish (fluent), english (fluent), german (basic)

 Education & competence

Docent in virology (22.06.2015), Faculty Council of the Faculty of Medicine at University of Helsinki

Ph.D in biochemistry (09.10.2007),Department of Biochemistry and Pharmacy, Åbo Akademi, research group of Ari Hinkkanen

Thesis title: Construction and characterization of a replication-competent expression vector based on avirulent Semliki Forest virus

M.Sc in biochemistry (06.11.2001), Department of Biochemistry and Pharmacy, Åbo Akademi, research group of Ari Hinkkanen

Master’s thesis: Konstruktion av en bicistronisk expressionsvektor baserad på Semliki Forest virus A7(74), grade: laudatur (ECTS grade A)

Matriculation examination (1994), Ekenäs Gymnasium, Finland, 1994, final grade: 9.2, 4 laudatur of 6 in student’s examination


Senior researcher (July 2015 – present),Finnish Institute for Molecular Medicine, University of Helsinki, research group of Krister Wennerberg

Senior researcher, 1.5 years (Sep 2013 – June 2015),Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki, research group of Päivi Ojala

Senior researcher, 2.5 years (Jan 2011 - Sep 2013),Haartman-institute, University of Helsinki, research group of Akseli Hemminki

Post-doctoral fellow, 3 years (Jan 2008 – Dec 2010), Ottawa Health Research Institute, Ottawa, Canada, research group of John Bell

Research scientist, 0.5 years (May 2007 - Dec 2007),Department of Biochemistry and Pharmacy, Åbo Akademi, research group of Ari Hinkkanen

Graduate student, 6 years (May 2001 - May 2007), Turku Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

Assistant, 1.5 years (1999 - May 2001), Department of Biochemistry and Pharmacy, Åbo Akademi.

Undergraduate student, 5 years (Sep 1995 - 2000), Department of Biochemistry and Pharmacy, Åbo Akademi

 Positions of responsibility

  1. Scientific Officer, Akseli Hemminki group, Jan 2011 - Sep 2013
  2. PhD thesis pre-examiner: Jere Pikkarainen, M. Sc, University of Eastern Finland, 2012
  3. PhD thesis pre-examiner: Vesa Turkki, M. Sc, University of Eastern Finland, 2013
  4. Thesis committee member: Mette Ilander, M. Sc, University of Helsinki, 2013 – present


2008:   Wrote a business report on Jennerex Inc (now Sillajen, for BBG Equity Corporation, Ottawa, on behalf of Oculus Ventures Corporation, Ottawa, Canada

2013:   Consulting for Oncos Therapeutics Inc (, set up collaboration between Oncos and Tron, Mainz, Germany (


  1. Co-inventor (10%) on WO/2013/038066 (Modified Oncolytic Vaccinia Virus), published on March 21 (agent: Borelius Co)
  2. Co-inventor (25%) on a patent on enhancing adoptive T cell therapy, submitted 15.05.2013 by Akseli Hemminki
  3. Co-inventor (30%) on a patent on modified oncolytic adenovirus, submitted fall 2013 by Vincenzo Cerullo, maintained by Helsinki Innovation Services. Funded by TEKES (EUR 250 000)

 Invited seminars & international speeches

  1. Invited seminar Semliki Forest virus expression vectors – Applications and future prospects (45 min) at Viikki Biocenter, Helsinki, 06.02.2003
  2. Presentation Oncolytic capacity of avirulent replicative Semliki Forest virus in human melanoma xenografts in SCID mice at European Society of Gene Therapy meeting, Tampere, 04 – 07.11.2004
  3. Invited seminar Semliki Forest virus – Vectors and applications (45 min), University College Cork, Ireland, 16.02.2006
  4. Invited seminar Semliki Forest virus – Prospects in cancer targeting (45 min) at Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Rochester, MN, USA, 10.09.2007, and at Ottawa Health Research Institute, Canada, 11.09.2007
  5. Presentation Attenuated replicative alphavirus vector VA7 exhibits potent oncolytic activity against subcutaneous and orthotopic human glioblastoma xenografts in nude mice at European Society of Gene and Cell Therapy meeting, Rotterdam, Netherlands, 27 – 30.10.2007
  6. Presentation Attenuated Semliki Forest virus for glioblastoma targeting at 5th International Meeting on Replicating Oncolytic Virus Therapeutics, Banff, Alberta, Canada, 18 – 22.03.2009
  7. Invited seminar Enhancing oncolytic Semliki Forest virus potency by targeting innate defenses at German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg, Germany, 08.07.2009
  8. Invited seminar Progress and problems with heterologous combination virotherapy at Translational Oncoimmunology Institute (TRON), Mainz, Germany, 14.11.2012
  9. Presentation Prox1 regulates invasion and viral gene expression in lymphatic endothelial cells at 17th International Workshop on Kaposi’s Sarcoma Associated Herpesvirus (KSHV) and Related Agents, Beijing, China, 25-28.07.2014
  10. Invited seminar & docentship lecture Oncolytic viruses and tumor defenses at Haartman seminar series, University of Helsinki, 12.02.2015
  11. Invited seminar Cancer targeting by viruses – understanding and overcoming tumor defenses at Micro seminars, University of Turku, 11.11.2015

Funded grant applications

Personal stipends:

Turku University Hospital EVO stipend (2000); Magnus Ehrnrooths stiftelse (2003, 2011); Svenska kulturfonden (2003, 2004, 2005, 2011); K. Albin Johanssons stiftelse (2005, 2007, 2008); Medicinska Understödsföreningen Liv och Hälsa (2007, 2012, 2013, 2014); Waldemar von Frenckell’s stiftelse (2013); Otto Malms minnesfond; Tor, Joe och Pentti Borgs minnesfond (2004)

Salaries & post-doctoral grants:

The Academy of Finland post-doctoral grant (2 years, 2008), EUR 37800

Biocentrum Helsinki - partial salary (2011), EUR 22500

Project grants:

Helsinki University ERC Advanced Grant preparation support grant (2012), EUR 9500

Fields of Science

  • 3111 Biomedicine

International and National Collaboration

Publications and projects within past five years.