Jukka Jernvall

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Jukka Jernvall is an Academy professor and a group leader at the Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki, Finland. He has developed mammalian dentition as a model system in linking evolutionary and developmental biology research. Teeth offer a rich array of interrelated data on development, function, and evolutionary history. Typical questions are focused on identifying the roles of natural selection, environment, and development in shaping the diversity of life. He introduced the concept of signaling centers, called enamel knots, in regulating tooth patterning. His experimental and modeling work has revealed ways how enamel knots and different signaling pathways regulate tooth shape and affect the evolution of novel phenotypes. Currently he is involved in sequencing the genome of one of the most endangered mammal in Europe, the Saimaa ringed seal. Seal dentitions are relatively simple, yet provide a wide variety for study.