Biography: I obtained my DDS and PhD degrees at the University of Turku, Finland. After postdoctoral research at the University of British Columbia, I joined the Faculty of Dentistry at UBC in 1999, where I am currently a professor at the Department of Oral Biological and Medical Sciences. I am also a member of the Cell and Developmental Biology Graduate School at UBC. I have more than 100 publications in my interest areas.
Interests: My main interest is to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms of wound healing, with specific emphasis on finding novel ways to accelerate wound closure and prevent excessive fibrotic scar formation in skin. In particular, by using fast and scarless wound healing of oral mucosa as a model I have systematically studied the molecular and cellular signaling networks that are differently regulated in oral mucosal and skin wounds in cell culture and animal models that are relevant to the human situation. One of the key interests is to understand and identify phenotypic differences in fibroblast and MSC subpopulations in order to develop novel tissue engineering approaches to improve wound healing. With Dr. Hannu Larjava (UBC), I have also studied function of integrins in various contexts, including wound healing.
Expertise: We have expertise in key cell and molecular biology, proteomics, histological and immunochemical, and microscopy techniques. In addition, we have developed specific expertise in isolating, culturing and characterizing keratinocytes, fibroblasts and stem cells from humans, mice and pigs. We have also used various wound healing models in humans and the above animals, and developed a wound healing model in red Duroc pigs, the cold standard for preclinical wound healing studies relevant for humans. We have developed various two- and three-dimensional cell culture models to study tissue-specific fibroblast/MSC phenotype, cell-to-cell signaling via connexins, and cell-extracellular matrix interactions relevant for wound healing. We are also developing novel tissue engineering approaches that utilize live cells to improve wound healing.
Available equipment and techniques: We have developed a preclinical red Duroc pig model that mimics human skin wound healing and that can be used to test various tissue engineering approaches to improve skin regeneration. In addition, we can perform different mouse models of wound healing, and apply various cell culture models. We can also utilize various histological, immunochemical, cell and molecular biology and proteomics techniques, and have access to various microscopy techniques, including confocal, fluorescence and electronmicroscopy.