Description of the research programme:

The research programme is focused on how cells receive and process signals. The research projects have a long record of high quality basic research on receptors to cell adhesion molecules, hormones, cytokines, death ligands, and growth factors, as well as cellular receptors for microbes. There is also a strong emphasis on the molecular mechanisms of signal transduction and transcriptional regulation, structure?activity relationships of ligand-receptor interactions, regulation of receptor expression, and on molecular pharmacology. These basic research areas have broad ramifications in different fields of health and disease-related research, including inflammatory, cell stress-related, and degenerative diseases as well as cancer and metastasis. Therefore, many of the individual research groups have active projects aiming at both technology transfer and applying their results to different health-related problems.

The research program is now comprised of 19 groups. Three quarters of the groups are from the University of Turku. The rest are from the National Public Health Institute, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, and Åbo Akademy University.

Main strategies of the programme
The specific goals of the programme are:
1) High quality research that is internationally well recognized. The results of the work will also have potential for practical applications such as prevention of diseases as well as development of new diagnostics and therapeutics.
2) High quality research training.
3) Development of technology transfer-programmes. There are already graduate students in the Programme belonging to Drug Discovery?graduate school. The aim is to increase their number and improve their training programme by collaborating with industrial partners.

To reach these goals the programme has its emphasis in improving the research prerequisites in Turku by critical purchases of state-of-the-art instruments, by creating core-facilities, by facilitating interactions between research groups in Turku and the connections to groups outside Turku and to industrial partners, by arranging cutting edge international seminars and symposia, and by active participation in graduate school training and research administration.

The programme is especially focused on developing the following core facility activities: flow-cytometry and cell imaging; protein chemistry and analysis including production, purification, and analysis (both routine proteomics as well as advanced analysis of posttranslational modifications); molecular modelling, gene array-based analysis of gene expression.

Main research topics
Signalling, function, and regulation of adhesion molecules
Mechanisms of invasion
Adhesion and attachment-mediated signalling of immune cells
Stress-mediated signalling and transcriptional regulation
Signalling networks determining survival and cell death
Interrelationship between intracellular signalling networks
Adhesion and invasion mechanisms of microbes
Hormonal receptors and signalling
Neurotransmitter-mediated signalling