I moved to Imperial in 2013 to become Chair in Viral Tumorigenesis. Prior to this appointment I worked as a Research Professor for the Finnish Cancer Institute. I undertook my MSc and PhD at the University of Helsinki. After my PhD I worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University before returning to Helsinki.
The interdisciplinary research program of my group has the potential to make fundamental contributions to the fields of cancer biology and virus-host cell interactions. These can lead to major breakthroughs for the origin and mechanisms of Kaposi sarcomagenesis as well as deepen our understanding of cancer development and progress in general.
The research in the Ojala group aims to dissect the transcriptional regulatory networks of reprogramming of lymphatic endothelial cell (LECs) and investigate the contribution of the reprogrammed cells to Kaposi sarcomagenesis. We are also continuing our previous work to deepen the molecular understanding of the regulation of the two KSHV replication programs, the latent and lytic replication phases. Moreover, the discovery of virus-induced endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EndMT) has motivated us to hypothesize that LEC reprogramming could be involved also in other cancers involving the lymphatics. We are applying a variety of molecular biology techniques, developing sophisticated cell models combined with large- and medium-scale, image-based high-content screening platforms as well as in vivo mouse tumor models .
Cheng F, Pekkonen P, Ojala PM, 2012, Instigation of Notch signaling in the pathogenesis of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus and other human tumor viruses, Future Microbiology, Vol:7, ISSN:1746-0913, Pages:1191-1205
et al., 2011, KSHV-Initiated Notch Activation Leads to Membrane-Type-1 Matrix Metalloproteinase-Dependent Lymphatic Endothelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition, Cell Host & Microbe, Vol:10, ISSN:1931-3128, Pages:577-590
et al., 2010, Effective Suppression of Vascular Network Formation by Combination of Antibodies Blocking VEGFR Ligand Binding and Receptor Dimerization, Cancer Cell, Vol:18, ISSN:1535-6108, Pages:630-640
et al., 2008, Application of active and kinase-deficient kinome collection for identification of kinases regulating hedgehog signaling, Cell, Vol:133, ISSN:0092-8674, Pages:537-548