Research Group Principal Investigator

    Kirsi Pietiläinen, associate professor (docent), MD, PhD, PSc in Nutrition

    Tel. +358 50 599 2295
    Email kirsi.pietilainen [at]

    Diabetes and Obesity
    Research Program
    P.O.Box 63, Haartmaninkatu 8
    FI-00014 University of Helsinki

Diabetes and Obesity Research Program contact information

Postal Address
Research Programs Unit
Diabetes and Obesity
Research Program
P.O.Box 63, Haartmaninkatu 8
FI-00014 University of Helsinki

Visiting Address
Biomedicum 1
Haartmaninkatu 8
00290 Helsinki

Tel. +358 2941 911 (tel. exchange)
Fax + 358 2941 26382
Email name.lastname [at]

Obesity Research Unit - Presentation

Obesity-related metabolic disturbances begin early and are influenced by complex interactions of genes and the environment, contributions of which are difficult to disentangle in humans. The aim of the research of Associate Professor, MD, PhD Kirsi Pietiläinen and her team is to study the development of metabolic disorders in obesity in humans by using two highly informative study designs: one involving twins that are discordant for obesity, and another involving obese patients who undergo an effective weight loss treatment. Both of these study designs have obese and lean patient groups matched for genetic background: 1) obese and lean co-twins, 2) longitudinal follow-up of patients before and after weight loss.

Obesity relates to many diseases
Although obesity in general poses a significant risk for many diseases such as type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, and several cancers, the manifestations of obesity-related complications vary remarkably between individuals, and a small minority of obese persons remains metabolically healthy. The factors responsible for these variations and the predictors of long-term health are poorly understood.

Obesity Research Unit
Obesity Research Unit has become a well-recognized knowledge centre that plays a leading role in research as well as in the development and dissemination of information and education on obesity and the associated co-morbidities in Finland. Obesity Research Unit is located in Biomedicum Helsinki, and it is affiliated to the Research Programs Unit, Diabetes and Obesity, University of Helsinki.

Kirsi Pietiläinen’s research interests
Kirsi Pietiläinen and her research group at the Obesity Research Unit, University of Helsinki, identify biological pathways underlying the inter-individual variability in the metabolic health in obesity. KP’s team focuses especially on the mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cells, which are the key organs responsible for energy production in the form of ATP within the cells, and responsible for tissue and whole body homeostasis by regulating cellular stress reactions, growth and apoptosis.

The goal of KP’s obesity research is to pinpoint how alterations in mitochondrial machinery lead to diseases that are caused by the direct consequence of excess energy intake and lack of physical activity.

More information on Professor Pietiläinen's current research projects is available here.