Taija Mäkinen


2002 PhD in Biology, University of Helsinki, Finland
2003-2006 Postdoc, Max-Planck-Institute of Neurobiology, Martinsried, Germany
2007-2013 Group leader at the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute, UK
2013- Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) at Uppsala University, Sweden


My research interests lie in the understanding of how interactions between different cell types co-ordinate tissue morphogenesis. The circulatory system, composed of hierarchical networks of blood and lymphatic vessels with specific features serving their specialised functions, is unique in that it extends throughout the body and resides in diverse microenvironments, hence providing an ideal system to study complex interactions between cells and their environment.

I was introduced to the field of vascular biology during my PhD studies in the lab of Kari Alitalo at the University of Helsinki. My PhD work focused on the signalling mechanisms of the then newly discovered VEGFC, and established its receptor VEGFR3 as a key regulator of lymphangiogenesis. At the Max-Planck-Institute in Munich, I worked as a postdoctoral fellow with Ruediger Klein and identified a postnatal lymphatic remodelling process that is critically regulated by ephrinB2 signalling.

In recent years, first in London and now in Uppsala, our work has led to the discovery of new processes and regulators of vascular morphogenesis, including lymphatic and venous valve formation and collecting lymphatic vessel maturation. Recently, we uncovered an unexpected organ-specific mechanism of vessel morphogenesis that we termed lymph-vasculogenesis, and a novel origin of lymphatic vessels, which fundamentally change our understanding of the development of the lymphatic system.


2015 ERC Consolidator Grant
2015 Eric K. Fernström’s Prize for Distinguished Young Researchers
2014 Swedish Research Council Grant for Distinguished Young Researchers
2010 EMBO Young Investigator Award
2005 Werner Risau-Prize for Outstanding Studies in Endothelial Cell Biology
2004-2006 Human Frontier Science Program long-term fellowship
2003 PhD thesis prize from The Finnish Academy of Science and Letters
2002-2003 EMBO long-term fellowship