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Personal profile

Description of research and teaching

Dr. Vilja Pietiäinen’s research is focused on cancer precision medicine. The patient -derived cancer cells are isolated from tissues after the surgery, grown ex-vivo, and characterized with different omics technologies, including genomics, phenomics, and drug profiling. Dr. Pietiäinen develops also microscopic imaging –based solutions with her collaborators for phenotyping and drug profiling of patient –derived cells. This approach enables the better understanding of the cellular heterogeneity in cancer, and drug sensitivity and resistance in particular patient.

Vilja Pietiäinen has a M.Sc. in clinical biochemistry (Faculty of Biosciences, University of Helsinki; UH, and University of Edinburgh, Scotland, U.K) and doctoral degree in virology (UH, Finland). In the Academy of Finland post-doctoral position (Research group of Prof. Elina Ikonen, UH), she investigated the intracellular cholesterol trafficking and combined her earlier experience in cell biology, real-time cell imaging and other microscopic methods with lipid research. In 2011-2013, her research project was focused on characterization of novel candidate genes affecting blood lipid levels (such as LDL, HDL, and triglycerides) in humans using high throughput siRNA/drug screening and high-content microscopy in FIMM. 

Currently, Dr. Pietiäinen is a senior researcher at Kallioniemi group, and she acts a project leader of a collaborative project with UPM on novel high-content 3D cell culture methods, and as a project manager of TEKES FiDiPro fellow project “Next generation image analysis solutions - towards image-based diagnostics”.  In 2017, she initiated of the new HiLIFE core unit, FIMM High Content Imaging and Analysis (FIMM-HCA) within the HELMI platform.

She has teaching experience as a teacher at University of Helsinki laboratory courses, a tutor at Problem Based Learning sessions for Medical Students, and as a lecturer. More recently, she has also participated in planning of different courses in the curriculum of Medical Faculty and curriculum planning for Master Program for Genetics and Molecular Biosciences. She has studied the pedagogics in several courses at University of Helsinki. Currently, she acts as a part-time coordinator of undergraduate education at FIMM.

Fields of Science

  • 3111 Biomedicine
  • atherosclerosis
  • dyslipidaemia
  • 318 Medical biotechnology
  • high throughput screening
  • RNAi
  • 1182 Biochemistry, cell and molecular biology
  • cholesterol
  • Lipids
  • cancer
  • bioimaging
  • drug screening

International and National Collaboration Publications and projects within past five years.

Publications 2000 2018

  • 17 Article
  • 1 Other contribution
  • 1 Doctoral Thesis

Association of tamoxifen resistance and lipid reprogramming in breast cancer

Hultsch, S., Kankainen, M., Paavolainen, L., Kovanen, R-M., Ikonen, E., Kangaspeska, S., Pietiäinen, V. & Kallioniemi, O., 24 Aug 2018, In : BMC Cancer. 18, 14 p., 850.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Open Access

Advanced Cell Classifier: User-Friendly Machine-Learning-Based Software for Discovering Phenotypes in High-Content Imaging Data

Piccinini, F., Balassa, T., Szkalisity, A., Molnar, C., Paavolainen, L., Kujala, K., Buzas, K., Sarazova, M., Pietiainen, V., Kutay, U., Smith, K. & Horvath, P., 28 Jun 2017, In : Cell Systems. 4, 6, p. 651-+ 10 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Suomi matkalla henkilökohtaisen lääketieteen mallimaaksi

Pietiäinen, V., 2017, In : Moodi.. 41, 1, p. 8-11 4 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleProfessional

Open Access

Projects 1999 2019

Activities 2010 2018

Nordic HC Screening Network (External organisation)

Vilja Pietiäinen (Board member)

Activity: Membership typesMembership or other role in public Finnish or international organization

UPM Kymmene visit to Meilahti Campus

Vilja Pietiäinen (Speaker)
12 Jan 2018

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

Invited talk, Oulu University seminar series

Vilja Pietiäinen (Speaker)
3 May 2018

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

Presentation, Finnish Scientific Business Delegation in Basel

Vilja Pietiäinen (Speaker)
18 Aug 2018

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

Invited talk, Orion Science Academy Forum, Espoo Finland

Vilja Pietiäinen (Speaker)
20 Aug 2018

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

Press / Media

04/2017 UPM GrowDex Newsletter haastatteluartikkeli

Vilja Pietiäinen


1 media contribution

Press/Media: Press / Media

Suomen Kuvalehti/haastattelu

Vilja Pietiäinen


1 item of media coverage

Press/Media: Press / Media

Projektiuutisointi 01/2017 UPM GrowDex/Newsletter

Vilja Pietiäinen


1 item of media coverage

Press/Media: Press / Media

12.12.2016 UPM Biofore, haastattelu

Vilja Pietiäinen


1 item of media coverage

Press/Media: Press / Media