Institute of Biotechnology welcomes three new group leaders to the institute!

New group leaders have been appointed.

Institute of Biotechnology (BI) has recently recruited top-level researchers from over 100 high quality applicants. The recruitment for group leader positions started last summer and the final appointments were approved by the HiLIFE Board on 19 December 2023. 

“Appointment of new group leaders is always a significant milestone for our institute, and I am thrilled to welcome Johanna Syrjänen, Alex Mühleip, and Jarno Mäkelä to BI. Their outstanding research backgrounds and experiences from esteemed international institutions make them a very valuable addition to our institute. Their expertise aligns well with ongoing projects and opens up possibilities for exciting joint research ventures”, says Director Juha Huiskonen

”I would like to express my gratitude to the Appointment Committee and the entire BI community for their active involvement during the site visits. I would like to extend my heartfelt appreciation to Anu Roine, our HR partner at HiLIFE, for her invaluable support throughout the recruitment process.  Such collaboration ensures that we continue to recruit the brightest minds in our field. Together, we are building a compassionate, dynamic, and successful research community at our institute”, Juha continues. 


Johanna Syrjänen received her PhD from the University of Cambridge (UK) in 2017, where she studied the biochemistry and biophysics of proteins involved in meiotic chromosome organization. After her PhD, Johanna continued her interests in exploring protein behavior as a research scientist at Iontas Ltd. (UK), a biotech focused on the discovery and development of therapeutic antibodies. For her post-doctoral studies, she expanded into membrane protein research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (USA). She is interested in unraveling structure-function relationships of macromolecular protein assemblies and their interactions with the local environment on a molecular level, and particularly excited about the potential of harnessing future structural and functional discoveries for the development of therapeutics. 

Johanna will join BI in August 2024. 


Jarno Mäkelä received his PhD in computational biology from Tampere University of Technology in 2016. As a postdoctoral researcher, he studied dynamics of structural maintenance of chromosomes complexes at the University of Oxford (UK) and maintenance of growth homeostasis in bacteria at Stanford University (USA). In 2022, he returned to Finland as an Academy Research Fellow and was awarded an ERC starting grant. His group investigates temperature adaptation in extremophilic bacteria. They develop super-resolution microscopy and single molecule tracking techniques to study the limits of cellular life. 

Jarno’s group leader position at BI will start in January 2024.  


Alexander Mühleip has a background in structural biology and biochemistry and received his PhD in 2017 from the Goethe University Frankfurt (Germany). During his postdoctoral research at Stockholm University (Sweden), for which he gained an EMBO Long-term fellowship, he studied mitochondrial membrane-protein complexes using electron cryo-microscopy. In particular, Alexander combined high-resolution and in situ cryoEM methods with functional analysis to study the unique organization of the inner mitochondrial membrane in protozoan parasites. In 2022, Alexander joined the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Parasitology as an independent research fellow at the University of Glasgow (UK). His research is focused on the structure and function of mitochondrial membrane-shaping protein complexes in human parasites, and the bioenergetic role of these components in human mitochondrial disorders. 

Alexander started in BI already in December and his recruitment was made possible by PROFI7 funding for Resilient and Just Systems RESET.