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 late 2019, I started by lab at 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.

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. Laura studies the relationship between reticular adhesions and the endocytic machinery. In our latest paper, she has made cool discoveries in this topic. Now, Laura is diving deep in the biology of these structures in cancer. 

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

Seyda Culfa, PhD student

Seyda is from Turkey. She joined our lab in October 2022.

For her PhD, Seyda is studying the role of a novel septin interacting protein in cell migration and cancer.


Jekaterina Kristal, Postdoc

Katja is from Estonia. She joined our lab in March 2023.

Katja is mapping the architecture and composition of the endocytic cytoskeleton.


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 Student - Sept 2021 to Dec 2021

Anastasiia Avdeeva, EDUFI Scholarship - Feb 2021 to Jan 2022

Tai Arima, Master's student - Nov 2021 to October 2022

Kirika Karppinen, Undergrad student - Jun 2022 to Jul 2022

Emma Tobarra Lopez, Erasmus Student - Feb 2023 to Jun 2023

Amr Abouelezz, Postdoc - August 2020 to July 2023

Mohammed Quadir, Master's student - September 2023 to January 2024

Narjes Zeinoddin, Master's student -> Research Assistant - Feb 2020 to March 2024