Irma Järvelä


Description of research and teaching

Research projects

The research group works in close collaboration with experts in bioinformatics, music education and in clinical research to identify genetic variants underlying traits affecting both normal and abnormal brain development.

I Biological basis of musical aptitude

The project represent an interdisciplinary project where the modern methods of molecular and statistical genetics, bioinformatics and music education are combined to elucidate the cross-talk between genes and cultural inheritance in music perception and production. The study represents a pioneer work at international level in aiming to understand the evolution of human cognitive functions in music.

II Molecular genetics of intellectual disability

Intellectual disability (IQ<70) is present in 2-3% of the populations. Genetic factors are responsible for 50 % of severe mental retardation. We use exome sequencing to identify novel genes and mutations in Finnish families with ID of unknown cause. Several mutations have been identified to date.

Members of the group

Chakravarthi Kanduri, MSc

Preethy Nair, DVet, MSc

Jaana Oikkonen, MSc

Anju Philips, MSc

Laboratory: Department of Medical Genetics
Office: Room B311b
Tel: 050 544 7030 mobile
Tel: 02941 25506 laboratory


Sirpa Ala-Mello, Helsinki University hospital, Helsinki

Kristiina Avela, Department of Medical Genetics, The Family Federation, Helsinki

Ilkka Immonen, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Helsinki

Kai Karma, prof (emer) Sibelius Academy

Tuire Kuusi, MuD, Sibelius Academy

Harri Lähdesmäki, Aalto University

Päivi Onkamo, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, UH

Pirre Raijas, Sibelius Academy, DocMus Department, Helsinki

Mirja Somer, Department of Medical genetics, The Family Federation, Helsinki

Raija Vanhala, Department of Child Neurology, University of Helsinki

Lisenka Vissers, Radboud Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Jozef Gecz, Adelaide Children's hospital, Adelaide, Australia





The Academy of Finland

Biomedicum Helsinki Foundation

The Finnish Medical Society (Finska Läkaresällskapet)


List of five recent publications profiling research activities of the group

group Philips AK, Siren A, Avela K, Doagu F, Ahvenainen M, Arvio M, Somer M, Kääriainen H,  van Esch H, Haas S, Hu H, Froyen G, Kalscheuer V, Järvelä I. X-Exome sequencing in Finnish families with  intellectual disability ? Five novel mutations and two syndromic phenotypes found. Orphanet J Rare Dis 9:49, 2014


Oikkonen J, Huang Y, Onkamo P, Ukkola-Vuoti L, Raijas P, Karma K, Vieland VJ, Järvelä I. A genome-wide linkage and association study of musical aptitude identifies genetic variants related to inner ear development and neurocognitive functions. Mol Psychiatry 2014 Mar 11. doi: 10.1038/mp.2014.8. [Epub ahead of print].


Hautamäki A, Kivioja J, Seitsonen S,  Savolainen ER, Liinamaa MJ, Luoma A, Järvelä I, Immonen I. The IL-8, VEGF and CFH Polymorphisms and Bevacizumab in Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Ophthalmology 121(4):973-974.e2, 2014.


Kanduri C, Ukkola-Vuoti L, Oikkonen J, Buck G, Blancher C, Raijas P,  Karma K, Lähdesmäki H, Järvelä I. The genome wide landscape of copy  number variations in the MUSGEN study provides evidence for a founder  effect in the isolated Finnish population. Eur J Hum Genet 2013, Apr  17. [Epub ahead of print].


Ukkola-Vuoti L, Kanduri C, Oikkonen J, Buck G, Blancher C, Raijas P,  Karma K, Lähdesmäki H, Järvelä I. Genome wide copy number variation  analysis in extended families and unrelated individuals characterized  for musical aptitude and creativity in music. PLoS ONE 8(2): e56356, 2013


Possible URL address to lab's home page or/and EU/other project project

Further information on the affiliationresponsible for teaching of medical genetics at the faculty of medicine

Curriculum Vitae

Clinical reader in medical genetics 01.08.2010>, acting professor in medical genetics 01.03.2010-31.12.2011

Highlighted publications

  1. The effect of music performance on the transcriptome of professional musicians

    Kanduri, C., Kuusi, T., Ahvenainen, M., Philips, A. K., Lahdesmaki, H. & Jarvela, I. 25 Mar 2015 In : Scientific Reports. 5, 7 p., 9506

    Research output: Scientific - peer-reviewArticle

  2. A genome-wide linkage and association study of musical aptitude identifies loci containing genes related to inner ear development and neurocognitive functions

    Oikkonen, J., Huang, Y., Onkamo, P., Ukkola-Vuoti, L., Raijas, P., Karma, K., Vieland, V. J. & Jarvela, I. Feb 2015 In : Molecular Psychiatry. 20, 2, p. 275-282 8 p.

    Research output: Scientific - peer-reviewArticle

  3. The effect of listening to music on human transcriptome

    Kanduri, C., Raijas, P., Ahvenainen, M., Philips, A. K., Ukkola-Vuoti, L., Lahdesmaki, H. & Jarvela, I. 12 Mar 2015 In : PeerJ. 3, 17 p., 830

    Research output: Scientific - peer-reviewArticle

  4. Creative Activities in Music - A Genome-Wide Linkage Analysis

    Oikkonen, J., Kuusi, T., Peltonen, P., Raijas, P., Ukkola-Vuoti, L., Karma, K., Onkamo, P. & Jarvela, I. 24 Feb 2016 In : PLoS One. 11, 2, 21 p., 0148679

    Research output: Scientific - peer-reviewArticle

  5. Detecting signatures of positive selection associated with musical aptitude in the human genome

    Liu, X., Kanduri, C., Oikkonen, J., Karma, K., Raijas, P., Ukkola-Vuoti, L., Teo, Y-Y. & Jarvela, I. 16 Feb 2016 In : Scientific Reports. 6, 9 p., 21198

    Research output: Scientific - peer-reviewArticle

View all (191) »

Latest activities

  1. What do we know about genetics of musical traits

    Järvelä, I. (Speaker)
    20 Nov 2017

    Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation

  2. Biological basis of musical aptitude and musical creativity

    Järvelä, I. (Speaker)
    18 Jul 2017

    Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation

  3. Genomics studies to analyze music perception and practice

    Järvelä, I. (Speaker)
    17 Jun 2017

    Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation

View all (66) »

Latest prizes

  1. Helsingin Liike- ja Virkanaisten yhdistys

    Irma Järvelä (Recipient), 31 Oct 1991

    Prize: Prizes and awards

View all (2) »

Latest projects

  1. Biological basis of musical aptitude

    Järvelä, I., Oikkonen, J. & Ukkola-Vuoti, L.

    Unknown funder


    Project: Research project

View all (1) »



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