Taija Mäkinen (PI)

I am interested in understanding the complex interplay between cells and their environment during vascular morphogenesis.


Bojana Jakic

I received my PhD in Medical Science, at the Aging of Biological Communication Systems program, from the Medical University of Innsbruck in Austria. I have a background in cardiovascular disease research, endothelial cell biology and immunology. I joined Taija´s lab in 2019 and I will work on the immunomodulatory functions of LECs during steady state and inflammatory conditions in different organs.

Hans Schoofs

I obtained my Master's degree in Biochemistry and Biotechnology at the Univesity of Antwerp. I conducted my thesis work under the supervision of Prof. Patrick D'Haeze, with the aim of developing a novel model for arterial calcification by using a 5/6th nephrectomy approach to induce chronic kidney disease, one of the leading causes of medial calcification. I started my PhD in 2019 as part of the V.A. Cure ITN training network on vascular anomalies. My project is focused on understanding how oncogenic PI3K signalling drives the initiation and progression of lymphatic and venous malformations.

Henrik Ortsäter

I received my PhD in Medical Cell Biology from Uppsala University in 2005. After post doctoral work on diabetes research at Karolinska Institute I joined the Mäkinen lab in 2014. I’m working on techniques to monitor lymphatic vessel function using NIR in vivo microscopy.

Magda Hernandez Vasquez

I received my PhD in Pharmacology from CINVESTAV-IPN in Mexico City. During my PhD in Prof. Jose Vazquez´s lab, I characterized the molecular mechanisms by which GPR124/TEM5, an orphan adhesion GPCR, promotes endothelial cell adhesion. In 2017 I joined the lab as a postdoc. Now I am working on characterising two new lymphatic endothelial transcription factors.

Mami Camara

I have a master degree in Biomedical Science from Nottingham Trent University in UK. My master project was about The Role of Epigenetics in the Development of Chemoresistance in Colorectal Cancer cells. I joined Mäkinen lab in 2020 as a research assistant.

Marle Kraft

I obtained a joint master degree from Linköping’s University in Experimental and Medical Biosciences and the FH Technikum Vienna in Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine. For my final master thesis, I joined the Hla Laboratory of the Vascular Biology Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, where I studied the regulation of G-protein coupled receptor trafficking. I started my PhD education in the Mäkinen laboratory in 2019 to study PI3K signaling in the context of vascular malformations, as part of the European V.A.Cure training network on vascular anomalies.

Milena Petkova

I obtained my Master’s degree in Medical Research from Uppsala University. For my thesis I worked in Christer Betsholtz’s research group, exploring the expression profile of Gpr116 - an orphan adhesion GPCR, in the endothelium. I joined Taija’s lab in 2018 as a PhD student and my project focuses on the mechanisms underlying the development of venous and lymphatic malformations.  

Nina Daubel

I obtained my Master’s degree in Plant Pathology from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna. For my thesis work I joined the group of Ortrun Mittelsten Scheid at the Gregor Mendel Institute of Molecular Plant Biology, where I studied dynamics in nuclear architecture. I am interested in aspects of cell biology and development in general. My PhD project focuses on the characterization of lymphatic endothelial progenitor cells.

Sarah Schnabellehner

I received my Master´s degree in Molecular Medicine from Uppsala University, where I conducted my thesis project in Christer Betsholtz´s group. The project focused on the investigation of vascular defects and malformations during embryonic development caused by defects in Rho‑GTPase signalling. I joined Taija´s group in 2018, first for an internship and then as a PhD student, investigating the role of integrin signalling in (lymph)angiogenesis.

Simon Stritt

I received my PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the Julius-Maximilians University in Würzburg. Up to now I have studied the role of cytoskeletal proteins in platelet production and the pathogenesis of platelet disorders in the lab of Prof. Bernhard Nieswandt. In 2016 I joined Taija’s lab focusing on the role of the cytoskeleton in determining endothelial cell function and on the origin of lymphatic endothelial progenitor cells.

Sofie Sjöberg

I have a master degree in ecology from Stockholm University. My master project was about social complexity in the arctic fox. I joined Mäkinen lab in 2015 as a laboratory assistant.


I received my PhD in Biology from Tsinghua University in China, where I worked on the molecular basis of convergent extension movement during embryogenesis. I joined Mäkinen lab in 2015 as a postdoc. Now my work is focusing on the organ-specific mechanisms of lymphatic morphogenesis.