Young investigators of the month
The Young Investigator of the Month honor at FIMM is a monthly highlight of a FIMM PhD student or postdoctoral researcher for a recent significant accomplishment.
2022 YIM Honorees
November/December 2022 - Jadwiga Buchwald, Michaela Feodoroff, Heidi Hautakangas, Weikaixin Kong, Vesa Rahkama, Adithi Sundaresh, Zhiyang Wang

Congratulations for acquiring salaried positions at the University of Helsinki: Jadwiga Buchwald, Heidi Hautakangas, Weikaixin Kong, Vesa Rahkama, Adithi Sundaresh, and Zhiyang Wang.

Jadwiga Buchwald

Jadwiga Buchwald is a doctoral researcher in Jaakko Kaprio and Matti Pirinen’s groups. Her background is in statistics and her current research is on tobacco — which continues to be the number one preventable cause of death in the world. Jadwiga is passionate about public health, environmental issues, and more recently, science communication. In the future she would like to do research related to the Great Food Transformation needed to improve both our health and that of the planet. She recharges her batteries by dancing, spending time in nature and allowing herself enough (down)time at home.

Don’t forget to check out her blog post, World Changing Diet, which she wrote together with her husband for the Science Basement’s blog: https://www.thesciencebasement.org/blogging-science/world-changing-diet-part-i/

Follow their feel good account @peacelovestatistiX on Instagram for topics around health, environment and science.

Michaela Feodoroff

Michaela is a doctoral researcher in Vilja Pietiäinen's team, under Olli Kallioniemi group (FIMM), and Vincenzo Cerullo´s (UH/Faculty of Pharmacy, supervised by Mikaela Grönholm) group with co-supervision from clinician Antti Rannikko (UH/HUS). Her research focuses on discovering novel, enhanced immunotherapeutic treatments for urological solid tumors, and her research is part of the iCAN Flagship subproject on complex immuno-organoids. In her research she´s using 3D cell models, clinically relevant drug compounds and oncolytic adenoviruses. Currently, her work focuses on immune system-mediated control of tumor growth and disease progression under the umbrella of precision and translational cancer medicine. In her free time, she enjoys sports and to spend time with friends.

Heidi Hautakangas

Heidi is a doctoral researcher in Matti Pirinen's group. Her thesis work focuses on studying the genetic background of migraine and its subtypes by utilizing large-scale genome-wide data. Currently, she is working on fine-mapping the migraine risk loci to pinpoint the putative causal variants and genes that confer a migraine susceptibility. Heidi holds a Master's degree in statistics from the University of Helsinki, where she studied in the Biometry and bioinformatics Master’s program. In her spare time, she enjoys orienteering and cycling, reading, and spending time with her friends.

Weikaixin Kong

Weikaixin Kong is a doctoral researcher in Tero Aittokallio’s group. He received  his Bachelor degree (2015-2019) and Master degree (2019-2021) in Pharmaceutical Sciences in Peking University. His research focus is to develop and apply machine learning methods to predict effective and safe drug combinations or survival differences among leukemia patients, with the medical aim to explore and better understand the disease mechanisms of leukemias and to develop robust multi-omics signatures for prognostic and treatment prediction. Apart from work, he enjoys hobbies such as swimming and cooking.

Vesa Rahkama

Vesa is a doctoral researcher in Olli Kallioniemi’s group. His main research interest is developing physiological cell and tissue culture systems for human tissues, specifically within the context of prostate cancer. His thesis is about utilizing cancer tissue and cells for functional studies of biological interactions in the tissue environment, drug testing and translational medicine. Outside of work, he plays with the kids at home and the trumpet in Boston Promenade Big Band. In his free time, he enjoys silence.

Adithi Sundaresh

Adithi Sundaresh is a first-year doctoral researcher in Helena Kilpinen’s group. She received her Bachelor’s in Biotechnology from Ramaiah Institute of Technology in Bangalore and Master’s in Genetics and Molecular Biosciences from University of Helsinki. She is interested in both experimental and bioinformatics approaches in molecular genetics and transcriptomics. Her research focuses on characterization of neurodevelopment in vitro at the cellular level and elucidating molecular mechanisms of neurodevelopmental disorders using iPSC-based models. In her free time, she enjoys reading, painting and traveling.

Zhiyang Wang

Zhiyang Wang is a doctoral researcher at Group Kaprio since 2021. He received MSc In epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. His doctoral project focus on the effect of exposome, the totality of the environment, on mental health among adolescence and young adulthood and its genetic component and interaction. Moreover, the concept of exposome could be extended to “one health” and “planetary health”.

October 2022 - Aleksanteri Asikainen

Congratulations to Aleksanteri for his recent publication in Neurology!

Aleksanteri Asikainen is a doctoral researcher in Miikka Korja’s group and works in close cooperation with Professor Jaakko Kaprio. He is also a 4th year medical student at the University of Helsinki and aspires to be a clinician-researcher in the field of neurosurgery in the future. His research focuses on the mortality of aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage by utilizing large nationwide Finnish registers. Currently, he is investigating the within-country geographical variations in the short-term survival of subarachnoid hemorrhage patients in Finland. Apart from research and medical school, he enjoys video editing and playing tennis.

September 2022 - Sanni Ruotsalainen

Congratulations to Sanni for her recent publication in Communications Biology!

Sanni is a PhD student in Samuli Ripatti’s group, and at the beginning of this year started to work as a bioinformatician in FinnGen analysis team. Her main research interest is in the computational genetics, and method development. Her thesis focuses on improving the understanding of genetic background of the atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease by utilizing Finnish biobank data and developing statistical tools. In her free time, she enjoys different outdoor activities and sports, playing board games, knitting and spending time with friends.

August 2022 - Weikaixin Kong

Congratulations to Weikaixin for his recent publication in Leukemia

Weikaixin Kong is a doctoral researcher in Tero Aittokallio’s group. He received  his Bachelor degree (2015-2019) and Master degree (2019-2021) in Pharmaceutical Sciences in Peking University. His research focus is to develop and apply machine learning methods to predict effective and safe drug combinations or survival differences among leukemia patients, with the medical aim to explore and better understand the disease mechanisms of leukemias and to develop robust multi-omics signatures for prognostic and treatment prediction. Apart from work, he enjoys hobbies such as swimming and cooking. 

June 2022 - Lea Urpa

Congratulations to Lea for her work in developing and advancing the Science Basement!

Lea Urpa is a doctoral researcher in Aarno Palotie and Mark Daly's groups in the final stages of her PhD. She studies the genetic architecture of neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders, focusing on the effect of rare and common variants on the predisposition and cause of these disorders. In addition to this, she is the founding chair of The Science Basement, a non-profit organization based at the University of Helsinki that promotes opportunities and training in science communication for early career researchers. The Science Basement is focused on open, experimental SciComm activities and a low bar of entry- with no experience necessary to join and learn. Lea received her MSc in Translational Medicine at the University of Helsinki and joined FIMM as a FIMM-EMBL rotation student. In her spare time she enjoys biking around Helsinki and doing the 'fun work' of science communication.

More information about TSB can be found at www.thesciencebasement.org, or by signing up for the TSB newsletter:  http://eepurl.com/gf9Rzf

May 2022 - Alina Malyutina & Dimitrios Tsallos

Congratulations to Alina and Dimitrios for receiving Instrumentarium Science Foundation dissertation grants!

Alina Malyutina is a doctoral researcher at Jing Tang's and Caroline Heckman's groups. She is working on development of clinically-relevant computational and statistical methods for the rational design of drug combinations for individual cancer patients. Additionally, she is investigating the molecular mechanisms underlying proteasome inhibitors' resistance in Multiple Myeloma and exploring the ways to resensitize the malignant cells to those inhibitors again. Alina received her MSc degree in Computational Engineering at the Lappeenranta University of Technology and joined FIMM as a FIMM-EMBL/HIIT PhD rotation student.  

Dimitrios Tsallos is a doctoral researcher in Caroline Heckman's group. His thesis focuses on counteracting chemotherapy induced thrombocytopenia. Additionally, he is working on biomarker discovery in Multiple Myeloma using ex vivo drug sensitivity data from patient samples, combined with RNA sequencing, DNA sequencing data. Dimitrios holds a master's degree in Precision Medicine and Pharmacological Innovation from the University of Glasgow where he worked on drug screening using a high-throughput drug screening assay for protein-protein interaction as part of an industrial collaboration.

April 2022 - Gabin Drouard

Congratulations to Gabin for his recent publication in OMICS!

Gabin Drouard, Miina Ollikainen, Juha Mykkänen, Olli Raitakari, Terho Lehtimäki, Mika Kähönen, Pashupati P. Mishra, Xiaoling Wang, and Jaakko Kaprio. Multi-Omics Integration in a Twin Cohort and Predictive Modeling of Blood Pressure Values. OMICS: A Journal of Integrative Biology. Mar 2022. 130-141.

Gabin is a doctoral researcher from the Kaprio Group. He holds a master's degree in applied mathematics, and a master's degree in public health specialized in epidemiology. He has recently started his research on multi-omics data integration, and wishes to engage in multidisciplinary work to study complex phenotypes. The project he is currently working on focuses on multi-omics deep learning approaches for continuous phenotype prediction. Apart from work, he enjoys Finnish hobbies such as fishing and sauna.

March 2022 - Anil Kumar

Congratulations to Anil for receiving a Finnish Cancer Institute (FICAN) two-year salary grant!

Anil is a postdoctoral researcher in Mark Daly's group. His research focuses on the development of computational tools to predict personalized anticancer drug combinations using genome and transcriptome data. Currently, he is working on the development of computational methods to suggest anticancer drug combinations targeting tumor-microenvironment interaction. 

Anil holds a Ph.D. degree in Biology from the Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research (AcSIR), India, where he explored DNA methylations conferring risk to Type 2 diabetes in the Indian population. In his spare time, he enjoys running, reading, and playing football. 

February 2022 - Heidi Hautakangas

Congratulations to Heidi Hautakangas for her recent publication in Nature Genetics!

Hautakangas, H., Winsvold, B.S., Ruotsalainen, S.E. et al. Genome-wide analysis of 102,084 migraine cases identifies 123 risk loci and subtype-specific risk alleles. Nat Genet 54, 152–160 (2022).

Heidi is a doctoral researcher in Matti Pirinen's group. Her thesis work focuses on studying the genetic background of migraine and its subtypes by utilizing large-scale genome-wide data. Currently, she is working on fine-mapping the migraine risk loci to pinpoint the putative causal variants and genes that confer a migraine susceptibility. Heidi holds a Master's degree in statistics from the University of Helsinki, where she studied in the Biometry and bioinformatics Master’s program. In her spare time, she enjoys orienteering and cycling, reading, and spending time with her friends.

January 2022 - Jarno Kettunen

Congratulations to Jarno Kettunen for his recent publication in Diabetologia

Kettunen, J.L.T., Rantala, E., Dwivedi, O.P. et al. A multigenerational study on phenotypic consequences of the most common causal variant of HNF1A-MODY. Diabetologia (2021). 

Jarno coordinates the FINNMODY study in Tiinamaija Tuomi’s group. In October 2021, he defended his thesis on monogenic diabetes in Finland. The FINNMODY study has the main interest in monogenic disorders of glucose metabolism. The more specific goals are 1) to characterize variant–disease associations and assess whether genetic and non-genetic factors modulate the clinical presentation of monogenic diabetes; 2) to describe clinical features associated with monogenic diabetes and to provide recommendations for the diagnostic work-up, treatment and monitoring; 3) to evaluate how monogenic gene variants deteriorate glucose metabolism; and 4) to identify new gene variants and genes associated with monogenic diabetes.

Previous YIM honorees
  • January: Shabbeer Hassan
  • February: Sanni Ruotsalainen
  • March: Dmitrii Bychko
  • April: Alyce Whipp
  • May: Vasudha Ahuja
  • June: Pyry Helkkula
  • August: Minxia Liu
  • September: Tianduanyi Wang
  • October: Paula Iso-Markku, Mattia Cordioli, Aleksandr Ianevski & Marjo Nuottamo
  • November: Meri Kaustio
  • December: Disha Malani
  • January: Aleksandr Ianevski, Doctoral student, Group Aittokallio
  • February: Tuomo Kiiskinen, Doctoral student, Group Ripatti/ Palotie
  • March: Yevhen Akimov, Doctoral student, Group Aittokallio
  • April: Elina Parri, Doctoral student, Group Wennerberg
  • May: Nina Mars, Postdoctoral researcher, Group Ripatti
  • June: Sebastian Stenman, Doctoral student, Group Lundin
  • September: Disha Malani, Doctoral student, Group Kallioniemi
  • October: Satu Strausz, Doctoral student, Group Ripatti / Tuula Palotie
  • December: Liye He, Postdoctoral researcher, Group Aittokallio
  • February: Suvi Virtanen, Doctoral Student, Group Latvala
  • April: Emma Cazaly, Postdoctoral Researcher, Group Ollikainen
  • May: Oscar Holmström, Doctoral student, Group Lundin
  • June: Bulat Zagidullin, Doctoral student, Group Tang
  • July: Alina Malyutina, Doctoral student, Group Tang/ Heckman
  • September: Sarang Talwelkar, Doctoral student, Group Verschuren/ Wennerberg
  • October: Sailalitha Bollepalli, Doctoral student, Group Ollikainen/ Kaprio
  • November: Rubina Tabassum, Postdoctoral researcher, Group Ripatti
  • December: Jie Bao, Doctoral student, Group Verschuren/ Horvath
  • January: Ashwini Kumar, Doctoral Student, Group Heckman
  • February: Sami Blom, Doctoral Student, Group Kallioniemi
  • March: Heikki Kuusanmäki, Doctoral Student, Group Heckman (FIMM) and Satu Mustjoki (HRUH)
  • April: Andrew Erickson, Doctoral Student, Group Mirtti
  • May: Mehreen Ali, Doctoral Student, Group Aitokallio
  • June: Kauko Heikkilä, Doctoral Student, Group Kaprio/Vuoksimaa
  • August: Komal Kumar Javarappa, Postdoctoral Researcher, Group Heckman
  • September: Alyce Whipp, Doctoral Student, Group Kaprio/Vuoksimaa/ Korhonen
  • December: Jaakko Leinonen, Doctoral Student, Group Widén
  • January: Disha Malani, PhD Student, Group Kallioniemi
  • February: Ashwini Nagaraj, PhD Student, Group Verschuren
  • March: Maija Puhka, Postdoctoral Researcher, Groups Kallioniemi and Groop
  • April: Himanshu Chheda, FIMM-EMBL Doctoral Student, Groups Ripatti and Aitokallio
  • May: Jenni Lahtela, Postdoctoral Researcher, FIMM Technology Centre Single Cell Analytics unit
  • June: Muntasir Mamun Majumder, FIMM-EMBL Doctoral Student, Group Heckman
  • July: Balaguru Ravikumar, FIMM-EMBL Doctoral Student, Group Aittokallio
  • August: Alok Jaiswal, FIMM-EMBL Doctoral Student, Group Aittokallio
  • September: Riikka Karjalainen, Doctoral Student, Group Heckman
  • October: Sini Kerminen, Doctoral Student, Groups Pirinen and Ripatti
  • November: Jarno Kivioja, Doctoral Student, Group Heckman
  • December: Anna Cichonska, FIMM-EMBL/HIIT Doctoral Student, Groups Aittokallio and Pirinen (FIMM) and Rousu (HIIT)
  • January: Bhagwan Yadav, PhD student, Group Aittokallio
  • February: John Patrick Mpindi, PhD student, Group Kallioniemi
  • March: Katja Närhi, Postdoctoral Researcher, Group Verschuren
  • April: Anna Cichonska, FIMM-EMBL/HIIT PhD Student, Groups Aittokallio (FIMM), Pirinen (FIMM), and Rousu (HIIT)
  • May: Dmitrii Bychkov, FIMM-EMBL/HIIT PhD Student, Group Lundin
  • June: Khalid Saaed, PhD Student, Group Kallioniemi
  • July: Prson Gautam, PhD Student, Group Wennerberg
  • August: Pietari Ripatti, PhD Student, Group Ripatti
  • September: Samuli Eldfors, PhD Student, Group Heckman
  • October: Suleiman Ali Khan, Postdoctoral Researcher, Group Aittokallio
  • November: Yu Fu, Master's student, Group Kainov
  • December: Poojitha Ojamies, PhD Student, Group Kallioniemi
  • October: Luca Trotta, PhD student, Group Saarela
  • November: Arjan van Adrichem, PhD student, Group Wennerberg
  • December: Anna Aakula, PhD student, Group Kallioniemi