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Daniel Öhlund Lab

Research group Pancreatic cancer research laboratory

Research overview

Pancreatic cancer is resistant to available cancer therapies, which is reflected in a low 5-year survival rate of below 8 percent. This indicate that novel strategies to tackle the disease are needed.

The pancreatic tumor is characterized by a pronounced tumor stroma that surrounds the cancer cells. This tumor stroma contains nerves, vasculature, immune cells, extracellular matrix proteins and cancer-associated fibroblasts, that all interacts with the cancer cells and provide the cancer cells with important signals that regulate cancer cell growth and survival, and contribute to therapy resistance.

The overall goal for the lab is to get a deeper understanding in the stromal heterogeneity, and to reveal and explore potential druggable targets hidden within the stroma. We aim to determine which factors in the stroma that are important in regulating cancer cell growth, survival, immune escape, and drug resistance by using genetically engineered mouse models of pancreatic cancer and advanced 3-dimentional cell culture systems. Furthermore, we are developing and testing drugs that inhibit the most important stromal interactions with the aim to discover new methods to treat the disease.

People and projects

Daniel Öhlund (PI) 
M.D., Ph.D., Wallenberg Molecular Medicine Fellow and Wallenberg Clinical Fellow

Daniel has over 10 years of experience in pancreatic cancer research, and has a specific interest in the pancreatic microenvironment. He obtained his Ph.D. at Umeå University 2010, and 2012-2016 he worked as a post-doctoral fellow in David Tuveson's lab at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. The research has been focusing on finding diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers for pancreatic cancer derived from the stroma, and lately also to understand the role of the stroma in disease development. The overall aim in is to find methods to be able to diagnose the disease earlier and to develop new treatment strategies by attacking the microenvironment. He is group leader at the Wallenberg Centre for Molecular Medicine at Umeå University, docent in oncologi, and a clinical oncologist at the Cancer Centre at Umeå University Hospital.

Mitesh Dongre
Senior Research Engineer/Lab manager

Mitesh has experience in studying bacterial quorum sensing dependent pathogenesis in gastro-intestinal pathogens. Mitesh obtained his PhD in India where he did proteomic studies to understand molecular mechanisms of pathogenesis in Vibrio cholerae. During recent years his research focussed mainly on identification and characterisation of new toxin-secretion pathways in bacteria. In the Öhlund lab his main task is to understand significance of human microbiome, especially the gut microbiome, in the etiology of pancreatic cancer. Additionally, he is also analysing pathophysiological effects of secreted bacterial membrane vesicles for pancreatic cancers.
At the lab Mitesh is also operating as lab manager and is responsible for the organoid culture laboratory.

Charlotte Nordström
Lab technician/Animal colony manager

Charlotte is a laboratory technician and has worked at the Oncology Research Laboratory since 1997. In the Öhlund lab she is managing the animal colony and has developed the routines for the animal house. She is also assisting in various animal experiments. Furthermore, she is experienced in cell culturing, immunohistochemical staining, In Situ Hybridization (using the RNA scope technology), and different animal surgery procedures.

Cedric Patthey
Senior Research engineer

Cedric has his background in developmental biology. In the past he has studied cell fate specification, maturation, and cell type evolution with a focus on the neurons. He got increasingly interested in the use of bioinformatic tools, and he has optimized techniques for transcription profiling of cell types and is now delving into single cell transcriptomics.
In the Öhlund lab Cedric is focusing on the characterization of the cell type diversity of cells present in the stroma of pancreatic cancer. The aim is to decipher the molecular mechanisms involved in the interactions between cancer cells and stroma, with a focus on fibroblasts and the neurons innervating the pancreas.

Anastasia Knyazeva
Post-doctoral fellow

Anastasia obtained her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Biophysics and Molecular Biology in Saint-Petersburg, Russia. She completed her PhD in Umeå University, Department of Chemistry where she studied intracellular membrane trafficking and autophagy in mammalian cells. Now in Öhlund lab she is working as a postdoctoral researcher and focuses on tumor-restraining properties of cancer-associated fibroblasts in pancreatic cancer and modulation of these properties using small molecules.

James Mason
Post-doctoral fellow

James is a post-doctoral researcher from the UK. For his Ph.D., he studied human pluripotent stem cell heterogeneity using Raman Spectroscopy and cell population modelling techniques at the University of Sheffield. He began researching pancreatic cancer at the Wallenberg Centre for Molecular Medicine in Umeå in 2017. Presently James' primary projects involve conducting high throughput screens of small molecules to identify therapeutics in pancreatic cancer using in vitro organoid culture models as well as developing Raman spectroscopy to swiftly profile the disease in patients. Additionally, James studies tumour organoid metastatic potential, their susceptibility to ClyA toxin and quadruplex DNA dynamics.

Kumail Kumar Motiani
Post-doctoral fellow

Kumail completed his medical studies in Pakistan and started his PhD at the University of Turku. He has experience in studying internal organ metabolism using different radiological imaging modalities (PET, CT, MRI). In the Öhlund lab he will be responsible for developing radiotracers for early detection of pancreatic cancer. Additionally, he will be developing guidelines using different imaging modalities (CT, ultrasound) which will aid in diagnosis of both pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. Kumail will also focus on radiotracers targeting the tumor stroma.

Margarita Espona-Fiedler
Post-doctoral fellow

Marga´s scientific interests focus on next generation therapeutics and identification of novel biomarkers for early detection in precision medicine. She completed her PhD in Cancer and Genetics in 2012 at the University of Barcelona (Spain) and initiated her postdoctoral training at Northwestern University (Chicago, U.S.) where she contributed to the identification of MED12 as a novel cancer driver gene in uterine leiomyoma. After moving to UK, she gained extensive experience in drug discovery and preclinical assessment of first-in-class apoptotic-targeted therapeutics at both Institute of Cancer Research (2014-2016) and Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology-Queen’s University of Belfast (2016-2019). Most recently, she joined Karolinska Institutet to therapeutically targeting undruggable transcription factors using a proof-of-concept proteolysis targeting chimera (PROTAC) and CRISPR-Cas9 models in AML cells. The most relevant results have been published in peer-reviewed journals such as Cell Death and Differentiation, FEBS, Modern Pathology, or Endocrinology. Now, at Öhlund lab her work focuses on the identification and validation of novel therapeutic approaches for the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

Joshua Cumming

Joshua completed his Bachelor's and Master's degrees at the University of Manchester before working as a research assistant at the Manchester Collaborative Centre for Inflammation Research (MCCIR). His previous research used super-resolution microscopy to assess the nanometer-scale organization of inhibitory receptors in natural killer cells. Joshua's PhD project will focus on identifying and characterizing subpopulations of cancer associated fibroblasts (CAFs) in pancreatic cancer. Joshua will be investigating whether manipulating CAF subtype differentiation is a viable therapeutic strategy for pancreatic cancer.

Parniyan Maneshi

Parniyan obtained her Master’s degree in Biomedical Science at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands after finishing her Bachelor's in the field of Biomechanics in Iran. She has experience in working with fibroblasts and 3D cell culture models. In her master's thesis, she worked on a Notch-inhibiting Hypoxia-activated prodrug (HAP) and studied its effect on treatment resistance in a lung cancer model. Parniyan joined the Öhlund lab in 2020 as an Early Stage Researcher (ESR) working within the PRECODE (PancREatic Cancer OrganoiDs rEsearch) International Network which aims to train a new generation of leading scientists in model systems and methods for the development of new therapies for pancreatic cancer. She is going to identify the extracellular matrix (ECM) components involved in tumor progression by analyzing the tumor-stromal interactions in the pancreatic cancer tumor microenvironment (TME). Moreover, she is going to study the response of cancer cells under tension and identify their coping mechanism. The aim is to get a deeper understanding of the functional diversity found in the ECM of pancreatic cancer.

Stina Lindblad

Stina studied at the Medical Faculty of Umeå University and took her degree as a medical doctor in 2009. She has been working as a physician at the Cancer Centre at Umeå University Hospital since 2011 and is since 2018 as specialist in Oncology. Stina started her Ph.D.-studies in the fall of 2020 and her research involves clinical, biochemical and molecular markers in patients with pancreatic cancer. She will investigate different biomarkers and their correlation to radiological and clinical response of chemotherapy treatment.

Other students

Tala Alsaed
Master student

Mohammad Javad Dehghan Nayeri
Visiting PhD-student

Former lab members

Linus Böös
Research aspirant
(June 2021-June 2024)

Irina Sarró
Master student
(January 2024-June 2024)

Ellen Åberg
Medical student (T10-project)
(January 2024-June 2024)

Ada Mireia Oliva Quilez
(January 2023-June 2023)

Maja Westerlund
(January 2023-June 2023)

Tommy Lidström
(September 2017-December 2022)

Ankit Kumar Patel
Post-doctoral fellow
(December 2019-August 2022)

Maciej Wojszczyk
(Augusti 2022)

Jean de Dieu Mwizerwa
Master student
(September 2021-February 2022)

Enzo Giacopino
Master student
(September 2021-February 2022)

Clara S. Landwehr
Master student
(January 2022-March 2022) 

Paromita Kundu
Post-doctoral fellow
(July 2019-February 2022)

Agnes Blank
Medical student (T10 project)
(September 2021-January 2022)

Rahul Gaur
Post-doctoral fellow
(July 2020-August 2021)

Marina Rubio Garcia
Bachelor student
(January 2021-August 2021)

Noor Salah M. Alali
Master student
(January 2021-June 2021)

Linda Ogol
Master student
(February 2020-February 2021)

Sepideh Farmand Azadeh
Master student
(September 2020-January 2021)

Joakim Lehrstrand
Student, summer stipend
(June 2020-August 2020)

Tony Ullman
Bachelor thesis
(April-June 2020)

Carina Binder
Lab intern
(September 2019-May 2020)

Ismael Cem Nass Kebapcioglu
Master student
(April 2019-May 2020)

Yvonne Jonsson
Lab technician
(January 2017-January 2020)

Lee Ann Tjon-kon-fat
Project assistant (Post-doc)
(June 2019-September 2019)

Ismail Chergui
IFMSA student
(August 2019)

Silvia Remeseiro
Post-doctoral fellow
(September 2017-February 2019)

Sushmitha Sankarasubramanian
Master student
(April 2018 - January 2019)

Marcus Fredriksson Sundbom
Med. student, summer stipend
(June 2018 - August 2018)

Lucas de Barros Anastácio
IFMSA student
(June 2018)

Sofía Alejandra Moreira Lino
IFMSA student
(June 2018)

Rituparna De
Post-doctoral fellow
(April 2017-March 2018)

Fredrik Trulsson
Research project assistent
(September 2017 - December 2017)

Open positions in the lab

For questions regarding future positions, please contact Daniel (daniel.ohlund@umu.se). For questions regarding master thesis projects, please contact Mitesh (mitesh.dongre@umu.se). 

Find the lab

We are located in the 6M building at the Umeå University hospital campus.
Entrance L31 (close to the Medical Library)

Support our research

Donations can be sent to the lab (through Cancerforskningsfonden i Norrland).

Bankgiro 900-2668
Plusgiro 90 02 66-8
Swish: 123 900 26 68
(Mark the transaction: Pancreas-Öhlund)

Head of research

Daniel Öhlund
Assistant professor, consultant (attending) physician, other position


Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Diagnostics and Intervention, Wallenberg Centre for Molecular Medicine

Research area



Cancer Fund millions for research in Umeå

Cancer research at Umeå University receive SEK 59.5 million in the Swedish Cancer Society's allocation.

Substance in the blood increases before diagnosis of pancreatic cancer

There might in future be better chance to discover pancreatic cancer earlier thanks to substances in blood.

A challenge to find the solution to pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer can resist most existing treatments and the five-year survival rate is low.


Nature Communications, Springer Nature 2024, Vol. 15, (1)
Dennhag, Nils; Kahsay, Abraha; Nissen, Itzel; et al.
Nucleic Acids Research, Oxford University Press 2023, Vol. 51, (12) : 6264-6285
Deiana, Marco; Andrés Castán, José María; Josse, Pierre; et al.
Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group 2023, Vol. 13, (1)
López-Pérez, Ana R.; Remeseiro, Silvia; Hörnblad, Andreas
Frontiers in Genetics, Frontiers Media S.A. 2023, Vol. 14
Gonzalez-Castrillon, Luz Maria; Wurmser, Maud; Öhlund, Daniel; et al.
BMC Cancer, BioMed Central (BMC) 2023, Vol. 23, (1)
Vincent, Craig A.; Nissen, Itzel; Dakhel, Soran; et al.
Substance in the blood increases before diagnosis of pancreatic cancer

There might in future be better chance to discover pancreatic cancer earlier thanks to substances in blood.

A challenge to find the solution to pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer can resist most existing treatments and the five-year survival rate is low.

Latest update: 2024-06-06