About Us

On this page you can find out more about our group and its mission, vision, values, and history. At the end of the page, you can find our member profiles and get to know us. You’ll also find a link to our collaborators at the bottom.

Our group works at the University of Eastern Finland (UEF) in Kuopio. It is located in the heart of Finland and is surrounded by beautiful nature. The Finnish Lakeland offers our researchers ample opportunities to unwind and recover, which lets us do our best in the research we do. Our university is young, having only just reached its tenth anniversary in 2020 after a merge between two older universities, but it has already climbed high on the rankings of the world’s universities. In addition to what’s shown below, it was also ranked 49th amongst the world’s young universities in 2019.













The researchers and staff of our lab, as well as our collaborators, are all united by shared commitment to new scientific discovery on Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). We seek to uncover and answer key questions in basic and preclinical research, allowing us to find novel therapies and cures for AMD for the benefit of tomorrow.

Our Mission

Our AMD research laboratory at the University of Eastern Finland (UEF) is dedicated to conducting cutting-edge medical and clinical ophthalmic research aimed at understanding the molecular mechanisms of AMD, as well as generating knowledge and information crucial for the development of AMD-related medical cures and treatments. The Kaarniranta Lab is also committed to providing high level education and international training to students, clinical researchers, and scientists, who will then perpetuate and drive future AMD research worldwide.

Our Vision

Our vision is to bring together top-notch scientific teams around the globe that can combine molecular biology and applied medical research to create novel approaches to understand and decipher causes of AMD. Using this knowledge, we forge onwards in our AMD research to bring about advancements in preclinical applications, therapeutics, and cures. To this end, our laboratory and our collaborative research teams aim to encourage an environ of creativity, effectiveness, and open sharing of data and research. Finally, the Kaarniranta Lab constantly tries to seek out and establish new collaborative efforts within UEF, the Nordics, and worldwide in our mission to combat AMD.

Our Values

Our group strives to uphold many types of values as we work to stave off the effects of AMD on both individuals and our world at large.

  • Cherish the understanding of the basics of age-related macular degeneration while doing groundbreaking, foundation-laying research and clinical investigation.
  • Stimulate teamwork and collaboration institutionally, as well as nation- and worldwide, to combat AMD and build a well-meshed research community.
  • Share ideas, data, and knowledge to drive progress in AMD therapeutics and cures.

Brief History of the Group

Our group has been led by Professor Kai Kaarniranta since 2004. Over the last decades, he has been at the forefront of basic medical and clinical research of AMD. He is regarded as a leading figure in the field of ophthalmology internationally. During the existence of our group, we have published and been part of hundreds of scientific articles regarding AMD and its mechanics.

Our Group

(Click on the profile photo to visit the member’s UEF Connect profile, if one is available.)


Photo of the group leader Kai Kaarniranta. Click to be directed to his UEF Connect profile.

Kaarniranta, Kai
MD, PhD, Professor, Chief Physician,
   Chief Editor of Acta Ophthalmologica,
      President of the EVER Board 2019-2020
Focus: Medical retina consultant.
Skills: Molecular biology.

Senior Members

Photo of senior group member Szabolcs Felszeghy. Click to be directed to his UEF Connect profile.

Felszeghy, Szabolcs
DDS, PhD, Dr. Habil.
Focus: Biological imaging, teaching (anatomy, histology, etc.).
Skills: Image analysis, education.

No photo available of senior group member Juha Hyttinen. Click to be directed to his UEF Connect profile.

Hyttinen, Juha

Photo of senior group member Mika Reinisalo. Click to be directed to his UEF Connect profile.

Reinisalo, Mika
Focus: Retinal cell models, ocular melanin pigment, eye targeting peptides (vehicles for ocular drugs and diagnostic agents).
Skills: Cell culture (cell lines, primary cell cultures, and stable cell lines), molecular biology, gene delivery, cell imaging.

Junior Members

Sridevi Gurubaran, Iswariyaraja
Focus: Mitophagy in AMD, retinal pigment epithelium cell-based AMD models, inflammasomes in AMD.
Skills: Molecular biology techniques, data analysis and analytics.

Photo of junior group member Ali Koskela. Click to be directed to his UEF Connect profile.

Koskela, Ali
Focus: The role of oxidative stress and autophagy in AMD.
Skills: Cell culture, western blot, immunocytochemistry, cell models of AMD, qPCR, SNP analytics, data analysis.

Photo of junior group member Mikko Liukkonen. Click to be directed to his UEF Connect profile.

Liukkonen, Mikko
Focus: EMT markers in relation to AMD, website maintenance and other IT duties.
Skills: Western blot, ELISA, data analysis.

Ruuth, Johanna
Focus: Retina as a window for neurodegenerative diseases.
Skills: Cell culture, western blot, ELISA, immunocytochemistry, immumohistochemistry, ERG, OCT, behavioral tests, data analysis.

Photo of junior group member Toni Tamminen. No link available to his UEF Connect profile.

Tamminen, Toni
MD-PhD Candidate, MSc (Tech.)
Focus: Electrophysiology in AMD.
Skills: ERG, data science, cell culture, in vivo work.


No photo or profile link available for staff member Kati Mönttinen.

Mönttinen, Kati
Registered Nurse, Study Nurse
Focus: General study nurse duties, contact point between the hospital and research group.
Skills: Qualified Clinical Research Nurse and Associate (CRA).

Photo of staff member Anne Seppänen. Click to be directed to her UEF Connect profile.

Seppänen, Anne
Senior Laboratory Technician
Focus: Making sure the labs keep running smoothly, staff orientation and aid, labwork, general assistance.
Skills: Everything* laboratory related.

      * within reason 🙂


Photo of alumni Minna Helin-Toiviainen. No link available to her UEF Connect profile.

Helin-Toiviainen, Minna
MD, PhD, Ophthalmologist
Focus: Glaucoma, cataract surgery, strabismus.

No photo or link available for alumni Niko Kivinen.

Kivinen, Niko
MD, PhD, Ophthalmologist
Focus: Medical retina, AMD.

Photo of alumni Jussi Paterno. Click to be directed to his UEF Connect profile.

Paterno, Jussi
Focus: An ophthalmology resident doctor, physician-researcher.
Skills: Clinical work.

No photo or link available for alumni Tuomas Ryhänen.

Ryhänen, Tuomas

Photo of alumni Johanna Viiri. Click to be directed to her UEF Connect profile.

Viiri, Johanna
Focus: Proteostasis and autophagy in retinal pigment epithelial cells and AMD.
Skills: Cell culture, western blot, ELISA, immunocytochemistry, immunohistochemistry, cell models of AMD, in vivo work, ERG, OCT, microscopy (e.g. TEM), data analysis.

Our Collaborators

See our UEF Connect page for a list of our collaborators.