Set fire to all your maps, forget how it's always been. We are explorers of the "cell", learning to dream again. (adapted from John M. Green)
Leonardo Almeida-Souza, PI

I was born in Brasília, Brazil. I graduated in Biology at the Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCar) and obtained my masters at the Universidade de São Paulo (USP).

For my PhD I moved to the Flemish Institute of Biotechnology (VIB) in Antwerp, Belgium to study the cellular and biochemical effects of mutations in small heat shock proteins causing Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.

After a short postdoc in Antwerp, I moved to the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK as an EMBO fellow to study endocytosis. My postdoctoral work revealed that the protein FCHSD2 is a major activator of actin polymerisation during Clathrin-Mediated Endocytosis (Almeida-Souza, Cell 2018). I used cell biology, biochemistry and structural biology to reveal multiple aspects of the biology of this protein such as the structural details of its recruitment to endocytic sites, its molecular mechanism of actin polymerisation activation and its unique localisation at the base of clathrin coated pits.

In 2019, I was recruited by the Helsinki Institute of Life Sciences (HiLIFE) as an Assistant professor in Cell Biology. Our research group is located at the Institute of Biotechnology, a leading Finnish research centre hosting  various groups studying biological process from molecules to organisms. Importantly, we have access to many scientific facilities that enable us to tackle our research questions using various state-of-the-art techniques.

In 2021, I became an Academy of Finland Research Fellow.

Outside the lab I enjoy spending time with my two kids and lovely wife. I am also an enthusiast of woodwork. Building wood furniture is a great way to relax.

An-Sofie Lenaerts, Lab manager



An-Sofie is from Belgium and as our lab manager, she is reponsible for keeping everything running smoothly in the lab.

She is also our CRISPR/Cas9 expert. Before joining us, An-Sofie was the manager of the BRC hIPSC core facility in Cambridge, UK. There, she developed protocols for the efficient genetic engineering of stem cells. She will apply her expertise in our lab to generate multiple knockin and knockout cell lines.

Narjes Zeinoddin, Research Assistant

Narjes is from Iran. She is a master's student at the University of Helsinki. 

Narjes' project aims to understand how cargo size affects actin dependency in endocytosis.

Laura Hakanpää, Postdoc

Laura is from Finland.  Her PhD work studied how endothelial cell growth factors and integrin adhesion molecules regulate vascular barriers.

Laura joined our lab in June 2020. She studies 1) the relationship between clathrin structures and the extracellular matrix, 2) how Clathrin-mediated endocytosis is involved in cancer cell chemoresistance and diabetes, and 3) novel proteins regulating the Septin cytoskeleton.

In her free time Laura writes popularising science articles, learns to play the bass, dances ballet and walks her Labrador Hilla.

Amr Abouelezz, Postdoc

Amr is from Egypt. During his PhD, Amr studied the regulation and dynamics of actin at the axon initial segment, and the role of tropomyosin in membrane-periodic skeleton.

Amr joined us in 2020 to study the regulation of the actin cytoskeleton in clathrin-mediated endocytosis. Using live-cell imaging and super-resolution microscopy, Amr wants to elucidate the roles of different actin regulators during endocytosis.

When he's not in the lab, Amr is usually exploring the Finnish music scene, playing video games, or (more often) taking his daughter to the playground.

Tai Arima, Master's Student

Tai is from The Unites States. He joined our lab in november 2021.

For his Master's project, Tai is developing a novel endocytic assay.


Open positions



Are you interested in joining us?

We are always looking for enthusiatic people! Drop us a line to check for possibilities.



Panagiotis (Panos) Lilis, Erasmus+ Exchange Student - Sept 2021 to Dec 2021

Anastasiia Avdeeva, EDUFI Scholarship - Feb 2021 to Jan 2022