Miina Ollikainen, Group Leader.


Miina Ollikainen is a docent in Epigenetics. She gained her MSc degree in Genetics from the University of Helsinki and continued to study genetics and epigenetics of Lynch Syndrome for her PhD in the Dept of Medical Genetics at the University of Helsinki. Miina spent three years as a postdoc at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and University of Melbourne, Australia, where she studied early life epigenetics in twins. After returning to Finland she joined the Finnish Twin Cohort Study and recently established her own research group on epigenetics in complex diseases and traits, now located at the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland, FIMM.

Milla Kibble, Senior Researcher.


Milla Kibble has been a senior researcher at FIMM since 2014 and joined Miina Ollikainen’s group at the beginning of 2017 to conduct research into the role of epigenetic effects in obesity and metabolic syndrome, using multiple data types from monozygotic twins. Milla is currently also a member of Jaakko Kaprio’s Genetic Epidemiology group and coordinator of the FIMMPOD postdoctoral professional development programme. Milla received her PhD in pure mathematics from University College London and subsequently worked at Numbercraft Ltd, the University of Turku and Aalto University. Upon joining FIMM, she conducted research in Tero Aittokallio’s group on network pharmacology approaches to elucidate mechanisms of action and efficacy of drugs and their combinations, with a particular interest in natural products.

Emma Cazaly, Postdoctoral Researcher.


I have recently moved to Helsinki from Australia and am enjoying meeting everyone at FIMM and learning about Finnish culture, especially the Easter traditions and delicious eggs! I completed my undergraduate degree, a Bachelor of Medical Research, at the University of Tasmania, followed by my PhD at the Menzies Institute for Medical Research, which is also based in Hobart, Tasmania. My PhD study focussed on genomic and epigenomic predisposition to familial prostate cancer in Tasmanian men, during which I completed both the laboratory and analysis work. I have now taken up at post-doctoral position in Miina Ollikainen’s group examining the epigenetics of complex diseases. I am looking forward to working on a range of interesting projects in Miina’s group. I also love outdoor activities, particularly soccer and I’m excited to explore Finland!

Richa Gupta, PhD (bioinformatics).

I started my PhD in the Finnish twin research group as a part of the Marie Curie initial training network –EpiTrain. My PhD research involves examination of the role of genetic and epigenetic alterations underlying the complex trait of smoking behavior. More precisely, my projects involve genome and epigenome-wide association studies enabling investigation at the whole genome level, targeted studies focusing on specific pathways underlying nicotine dependence and withdrawal symptoms, quantitative trait loci analysis to look at the joint effects of genetic (SNPs) and epigenetic (DNA methylation) alterations, as well as annotation of the detected associations for functional role.

Before starting my PhD in this group, I completed my bachelor’s degree in biotechnology engineering from Jaypee University in India followed by MSc in bioinformatics from King’s College London, UK. I’m interested in large-scale data analysis and most intrigued by the interplay between genetics and epigenetics, which are both well accommodated in my PhD research.

Sailalitha Bollepalli, PhD student (bioinformatics).


I am a doctoral student at the Twin study group. I hold a B.Tech in Biotechnology and an MSc in Computational Biology. My PhD thesis aims at investigating and understanding the role of DNA methylation and histone modifications associated with obesity and weight-loss, using trait discordant MZ twin pairs, a population-based cohort, and weight-loss intervention sample.

Maheswary Muniandy, Postdoctoral Researcher (bioinformatics).
After a long career in the telecommunications industry (both in Malaysia and Finland), I started my PhD studies in 2014. I now do bioinformatics research in the field of obesity where I work to uncover the molecular interpretation into why all obesity is not created equal. I have a Bachelors degree in Computer Science, Masters in Bioinformatics, Masters in Project Management and an MBA. Before starting my doctoral studies, I was a project manager with Nokia Finland.

Pauliina KarellMSc student (statistics).


My name is Pauliina Karell and I’m majoring in statistics but I’ve also studied mathematics and genetics as my minors. I wanted to be a psychologist first but then statistics got me and it ended my career as a psychologist. I haven’t regretted it!

Currently, I’ve been working with the EWAS pipeline to try to figure out what’s the best way to handle methylation data in the analyses. This project has taken me deeper than I first thought it would!
When I’m not working (or studying!) I usually train or read something or watch tv-series. And I like to drink tea, lots of it.

Mia Urjansson, Medical laboratory Technologist.


I have been working as a Study Nurse at Twin Research group since November 2013. I am doing both, Clinical Studies and Laboratory work.

Former Group Members:

Khadeeja Ismail.

Aileen Bahl.

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