Centre for Cancer Biomarkers CCBIO
CCBIO Seminar series

CCBIO Seminar – Ritva Heljasvaara

Speaker: Ritva Heljasvaara, University of Oulu, Finland. Title: "Novel roles of collagens and a11 integrin in solid cancers". Due to the Covid-19 circumstences, the seminar will be held through a digital platform (Zoom Webinar), so you can attend even from the comfort of your own home.

Main content

Speaker: Ritva Heljasvaara, University of Oulu, Finland

Title: Novel roles of collagens and a11 integrin in solid cancers

Place: digital event as webinar in Zoom. Link to the event in Zoom: https://uib.zoom.us/j/61543966005?pwd=MnZHMmVTbmM3NXE0NDdqTDliQjlPZz09

Passcode: DkqBEs0N

Please log in with your name, so that if you raise hand to ask questions, chair can address you by your name, and not an unpronounceable code. Your camera and microphone will as default be muted, unless chair opens access for your microphone when you use the raise hand function.

Chair: Donald Gullberg


The extracellular matrix (ECM) is involved in neoplastic transformation, tumor growth and metastatic dissemination, and the interplay between the ECM and tumor and stromal cells, such as carcinoma-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) is considered crucial for the formation of a tumor-supporting microenvironment. Both tumor and stromal cells actively produce ECM proteins, as well as ECM-crosslinking and ECM-degrading enzymes, thereby contributing to tumor stiffness and releasing ECM-embedded molecular cues that can either favour or impede cancer cell adhesion, survival, proliferation, and migration. The alterations in the ECM are central for the generation of cancer stem cells, the founder population nourishing continuous neoplastic growth and contributing therapeutic success and relapse. In my presentation, I will discuss some of our recent advances in understanding the complex roles of certain ECM collagens in breast cancer, and the role of the CAF-produced collagen-binding integrin a11b1 in skin squamous cell carcinoma.

Short bio:

Ritva Heljasvaara, PhD, Docent, Oulu Center for Cell-Matrix Research, Faculty of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, University of Oulu; Oulu, Finland / Department of Biomedicine, Centre for Cancer Biomarkers (CCBIO), University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.

Email: ritva.heljasvaara@oulu.fi

  • Senior Researcher Ritva Heljasvaara received her PhD in 1996 in molecular biology at the University of Oulu, Finland.
  • Since 1998, she has been working in one of the world’s leading ECM research groups led by Professor Taina Pihlajaniemi at the Faculty of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, University of Oulu, and is currently the co-director of the group, and the director of the ECM-Hypoxia Research Unit at the Faculty
  • She attaches great importance for her post-doctoral training in the laboratory of Prof. Carlos López-Otín in, an expert in cancer biology and cancer genomics, mouse models and aging, at the University of Oviedo, Spain
  • In 2016-2020 she forms a part of the International Faculty of CCBIO at University of Bergen, through collaborations on integrin a11 and cancer-associated fibroblasts with Prof. Donald Gullberg
  • Her main scientific interests include ECM biology, especially collagens, cancer biology, carcinoma-associated fibroblasts, and she is an expert in in vivo mouse (tumor) models.

Also see presentation as part of CCBIO's International Network.