Principal Investigator, Assistant Professor
Juha obtained his MSc in Cell Biology in 2006 from the University of Jyväskylä and his PhD in Genetics in 2010 from the University of Helsinki. In his doctoral research he studied mechanisms that allow cells to dynamically alter their shape in order to carry out functions such as migration, attachment, and communication. From 2011-2017, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the ETH Zurich, where his interests expanded to proteostasis, asymmetric cell division, cell fate determination, cellular aging, and the connections between these processes. In August 2017, he started as an tenure-track Assistant Professor at the University of Helsinki and since September 2018 he has been a Academy of Finland Research Fellow.



Leena received her MSc in Biomedicine in 2008 from the University of Turku and her PhD in Biopharmacy in 2014 from the University of Helsinki. After PhD studies, she worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Utrecht University, the Netherlands (2015–2018) and at the University of Helsinki. Research topics of her PhD and postdoctoral studies included cell therapy applications and nucleic acid delivery. Leena joined the group in spring 2019.  She is investigating the molecular mechanisms associated to the formation and stabilization of synaptic connections, focusing specifically on the processes leading to biochemical and anatomical compartmentalization and individualization of dendritic post-synapses. The aim of the studies is to enhance our understanding on mechanisms governing learning and memory.


Kristopher completed his MSc in Biomedical Science in 2010 and his PhD in Biomedical Science in 2014 from the University of Auckland, New Zealand. His doctoral research, was biotechnology and cancer focused,  and centred on the use of cell penetrating peptides to deliver therapeutic agents into a range of different cancer cells. From 2014-2019 he was a post-doctoral fellow at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Japan. His research became neuroscience based, and involved analysis of the kinase Lmtk3, and its potential role in psychiatric disease. He also led a secondary project, which focused on mRNA regulation in neurons during synaptic plasticity. He joined the Saarikangas lab as a postdoc in June 2019, where he his now investigating the role of aging in producing adaptive phenotypes in early multicellular evolution. As he has worked on many different scientific topics, his research interests are extensive, but are focused on the molecular mechanisms which govern key cellular processes, such as cell maintenance, RNA regulation, neuronal plasticity, cellular aging and molecular chaperoning.

PhD student
Pinja completed her MSc in physiology & neuroscience, and ecology & evolutionary biology, at the University of Helsinki in 2017. She joined the group in October 2017. Pinja investigates the molecular mechanisms of synaptic strengthening, focusing specifically on the role of protein assembly formation. Her work aims to improve our basic understanding of the mechanisms underlying memory and neurodegenerative diseases. Pinja is a member of the Brain & Mind Doc­toral Pro­gramme. In addition to her work in the lab, she works as a part-time scientific illustrator under her company SciArt.

PhD student
Jurgita received her Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology from the University of Vilnius, Lithuania in 2014. Her Master´s studies in Gothenburg University in Sweden were focused on molecular biology with specialization towards genomics and systems biology and were completed in 2016. She joined the group as a PhD student at the end of 2017. She is currently investigating the role of protein assemblies in the metabolic differentiation of yeast cells. She aims to uncover new adaptive mechanisms by which cells can dynamically regulate their metabolism. Jurgita is a member of the Doctoral Programme in Integrative Life Science.

Research Assistant

Stavrula completed her MSc in Cellular and Molecular Biology in 2015 at the University of Torino (Italy), working at a research project focused on genomics and systems biology.  From 2016 she worked as research fellow and laboratory assistant at the University of Torino. She joined the group in November 2019 as research assistant in a joint project with the Sarin group. She is interested in understanding whether/how translational fidelity changes as cells age and how this impacts to the emergence of aging phenotypes in yeast cells. 

In her free time, Stavrula loves exploring new places, meeting friends as well as new people, doing sports, reading, walking in the nature and above all taking pictures along her way.

Master's student

ERASMUS student (University of Barcelona)

Exchange student (University of Washington)

Kim Katt, ERASMUS student

Jesse Sarameri, summer student

Jieyuan Fan, research assistant

Jukka Kiuru, master's student