Marja Mikkola

  • PL 56 (Viikinkaari 5)



  • Viikinkaari 5, Biocenter 2

    00790 Helsinki


1997 …2024

Tutkimustuotoksia vuodessa

Henkilökohtainen profiili


CURRICULUM VITAE 9 November, 2021

Personal details

M i k k o l a, Marja Liisa, née Rikkonen

  • Nationality: Finnish

Education and degrees completed

  • 24.3.2003, Title of Docent in Molecular biology, University of Helsinki (UH)
  • 19.12.1994, PhD, University of Helsinki (Department of Genetics)
  • 18.1.1990 MSc, University of Helsinki (Department of Genetics) (major: genetics; minors: biochemistry, animal physiology, animal morphology & ecology, plant systematics & ecology)

Current position

  • Research director, Institute of Biotechnology (BI), HiLIFE, University of Helsinki

Most relevant previous work experience and career breaks

  • Deputy director, Institute of Biotechnology, 1.8.2018-31.7.2021
  • Director (interim), Institute of Biotechnology, 1.1. – 31.8.2020
  • Academy of Finland, Center of Excellence (CoE), vice director (2014-2019)
  • Principal investigator, BI, UH, 1.8.2007–
  • Research fellow, Academy of Finland, Research council for Biological and Environmental Sciences, 8/2007–7/2012, 10/2006–7/2007 and 8/2005–7/2006
    • Post-doctoral fellow, 1997-2004, Institute of Biotechnology, UH, Laboratory of Prof., Academician Irma Thesleff
    • Post-doctoral fellow (funded by Emil Aaltonen Foundation), Cell Biology Program, Institute of Biotechnology, Labs of Dr. Christophe Roos and  Prof. Leevi Kääriäinen, 1995-1996
  • Graduate student, Lab of Leevi Kääriäinen (field: molecular virology and cell biology) 1990-1994
  • Career breaks: two family leaves (5/2001-4/2002 and 10/2003-9/2004)

Research funding

  • Academy of Finland (AoF), project grant, 9/2018-8/2022, 546 613€ (full cost funding) (PI)
  • Sigrid Jusélius Foundation, 5/2019-4/2022, 225 000€ (additional cost funding) (PI)
  • Finnish Cancer Foundation, 2018-2020, in total 125 000€ (additional cost funding) (PI)
  • HiLIFE Fellow funding, UH, 2017-2020, 180 000€ (no overheads funding) (PI)
  • Previous relevant funding includes: AoF, Center of Excellence funding to 5 PIs 2014-2019 (in total 5.68 M€), Academy of Finland (2007-2012; 2013-2017), Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation (2014-2017), Biocentrum Helsinki, UH (2014-2016), Sigrid Jusélius Foundation (2016-2019, 2013-2016; and ‘Major grant’ as co-PI 2008-2012), Finnish Cancer Foundation (2012, 2013), a consortia funding from Swiss National Science Foundation (2009-2012)

Research supervision

  • Currently running a research group of 10 people
  • Supervision of post-docs: 4 ongoing and 5 completed
  • Supervision of graduate students: 4 ongoing and 7 completed
  • Supervision of Master’s Theses: 11


Research output

  • 55 original articles, 17 reviews/perspectives/editorials
  • H-index 47 (Google Scholar, accessed 9 November, 2021; see

Major teaching activities

  • Assistant and lecturer in a number of laboratory and lecture courses organized by the University of Helsinki (and some by Universities of Oulu and Kuopio) since 1990 (teaching both in Finnish and English, and both undergraduate and post-graduate teaching) in the fields of developmental and stem cell biology, gene technology, molecular biology, cell biology, mouse pathology, and mouse models in physiology and development
  • Organizer of the annual 5 ECTS GMB-305 Stem cells and organogenesis lecture course since 2013
  • Scientific expert and referee for the 11th edition of the textbook Developmental Biology (Sinauer, 2016) by Scott Gilbert and Michael Barresi

Activities in Graduate and Master’s programs

  • Master’s program in Molecular Biosciences and Genetics, UH
    • Board (steering group) member 1/2021-12/2024; 11/2017-12/2020
      • Responsible teacher of the study track Cell and developmental biology 2018-2019
      • Member of the student selection committee of the winter call (2017, 2018)
  • Graduate program in Integrative Life Sciences, UH
    • Board member 2018-2021
    • Selection committee member for salary positions (2015)
  • Member of the PhD Thesis advisory committee of 18 PhD students in total

Administrative academic responsibilities

  • Executive team, Institute of Biotechnology, HiLIFE, 1.8.2018–
  • Management team, HiLIFE, UH, 1.4.2019–31.8.2020
  • Member of the Board of the Laboratory Animal Centre, UH, 2014–2016
  • Member of the Board of the Institute of Biotechnology 3/2008 – 6/2010; 3/2005 – 3/2008

Scientific awards, prizes, and honors

  • René Touraine honorary lecture, European Society for Dermatological Research, 2019, France
  • HiLIFE fellow (2017-2020) award
  • Biocentrum Helsinki membership award (2014-2016)
  • In University of Helsinki’s research and doctoral training assessment for years 2005-2010, the Helsinki Developmental Biology (HelDevBio) research community with 11 PIs including the undersigned got 25/25 points, and was one of the 7 (out of 57) top-most research communities in the assessment category “International cutting edge research”. As a reward, HelDevBio was awarded 330 000€ for 2013-2016.
  • Best publication of the year 2014 prize by the Finnish Society for Developmental Biology to the article Ahtiainen L,…, Mikkola ML. Developmental Cell 28:588-602, 2014
  • Prestigious 5-year Sigrid Jusélius Foundation “major grant” for 3 PIs (Irma Thesleff, Marja Mikkola, and Jukka Jernvall), 1.7.2008-30.6.2013, 1.25 M€
  • >10 invited reviews/perspectives etc., e.g. Curr Op Cell Biol (2019)

Other scientific, academic, or societal merits and activities

  • Doctoral theses
    • pre-examiner: 10 times (UH, University of Oulu, University of Turku)
    • opponent: twice (Sorbonne Université, Paris, 2020; King’s College, London, 2010)
  • Grant application reviewer for
    • Telethon Foundation, Italy (2020, 2019, 2015, 2009, 2008, 2007); Swiss National Science Foundation (2017, 2014); Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, UK (2014); British Medical council, UK (2004)
  • Referee for journals such as: New England Journal of Medicine, Nature Cell Biology, Nature Genetics, Genes & Development, PNAS (USA), eLife, EMBO J, iScience, Development, PLoS Genetics, Human Molecular Genetics, Journal of Investigative Dermatology, EMBO Reports, Journal of Biological Chemistry, iScience, Developmental Biology, Mechanisms of Development, Human Genetics, Developmental Dynamics, FEBS Letters, Journal of Dental Research, PLoS One, etc.
    • Invited lectures in international conferences or institutes (a few examples listed below):
      • Gordon Research Conference (GRC) on Mammary gland biology 2022; Nordic Stem Cell and Developmental Biology Meeting, 2020; GRC on Mammary gland biology 2020 (cancelled); ESDR, France 2019; Skin homeostasis symposium, University of Cologne, 2018; Tooth Morphogenesis and Differentiation Conference, 2016; GRC on Mammary gland biology, 2016; Dept of Dermatology, Univerisity of Pennsylvania, 2015; Ectodermal Dysplasia Minisymposium, NIAMS, NIH, 2015; GRC on Epithelial differentiation and keratinization, 2015; 15th International TNF Conference, 2015; Breast Cancer Now, ICR, London, 2013
  • Editorial board memberships:
    • Experimental Dermatology 2009–
    • Journal of Mammary Gland Development and Neoplasia 2019–
  • Positions of trust: Finnish Society for Developmental Biology
    • President 2011-2014
    • Board member 2006-2019
    • Chair of the organizing committee of the International Symposium “Signaling in Morphogenesis and Patterning”, Helsinki, March 13-15, 2013; Abstract reviewer, session chair, member of the organizing committee etc. of several international conferences
    • Participant in two workshops (2012 and 2008) sponsored by the USA-based National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasias (NFED;, patient organization that connects people touched by ectodermal dysplasias through education, support, and research
      • The aim of these workshops is to provide novel classification system for ectodermal dysplasias, to aid clinicians in diagnosis, and provide support for patients
    • Pro bono Consultant for Edimer Pharmaceuticals (Cambridge, Massachusetts), 2010-2014
  • Media appearances/interviews: 2013–2020: ~10 replies to kids’ science questions (including one live event in Think Corner of the University of Helsinki) for Helsingin Sanomat; 2020 & 2019: Kuluttaja (Consumer magazine); 2018: Helsingin Sanomat (2x); Boston Globe, HealthyDay, Kouvolan Sanomat; 2016: Helsingin Sanomat (2x), Ilta-Sanomat; several replies to ’ask the expert’ questions in popular journal Tiede (‘Science’) over the years


  • 1184 Genetiikka, kehitysbiologia, fysiologia
  • 1182 Biokemia, solu- ja molekyylibiologia

Kansainvälinen ja kotimainen yhteistyö

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