Researchers working in Satokari group.
Reetta Satokari, PhD, Docent and Principal Investigator

Reetta studied biology, microbiology, and biochemistry in the Moscow State University, Russia and in the University of Helsinki (UH), Finland and received her MSc. and Ph.Lic. (Licentiate) in microbiology in 1996 and 1999, respectively from the UH.  She then worked as a researcher in VTT Technical Research Centre, Espoo, Finland and did her PhD thesis research on human intestinal lactobacilli and bifidobacteria as a joint-project between VTT and the Wageningen University (WU), The Netherlands, where she worked in 1999-2001. She obtained her Ph.D. in 2002 from WU, NL. As a post-doc she worked in VTT and in the University of Turku, Finland and was involved in several projects on the development of a novel DNA/RNA detection technique as well as in research on intestinal microbiota and probiotics.

In 2008, Reetta was nominated as a docent (adjunct professor) in microbiology. Since 2011, she has been leading her own research group on human intestinal microbiota and host-microbe interactions in UH.

When Reetta is not occupied with science, she likes to make handicrafts with her daughter, enjoy nature in the Turku archipelago and to exercise belly movements in oriental dancing classes.

Imran Khan, PhD, Post-doctoral researcher

Imran did his PhD in Comparative genomics from CIIMAR, University of Porto and he joined as Postdoctoral Researcher at Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki. He received Academy of Finland Postdoctoral research funding for project “Genotype-phenotype mapping of craniofacial development and adaptation in squamate reptiles”. Presently, Imran is using NGS approaches to unravel role of Human Microbiome in Intestinal health, disease and therapy. His interest and expertise involve Molecular Biology, Genomics, Epigenomics (ATAC-Seq & ChIP-Seq), Transcriptomics, Single Cell-Omics, Evo-Devo and Human Microbiome. He is Wildlife enthusiast.

Kaisa Hiippala, PhD, Post-doctoral researcher

In 2015 Kaisa gained her M.Sc. degree in Food Chemistry at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry at the University of Helsinki. In her M.Sc. thesis Kaisa studied the effect of different carbon sources on the vitamin B12 production in Propionibacterium strains, which was part of a four-year Academy-project called "Natural fortification of foods: microbial in situ synthesis of vitamin B12 and folate in cereal matrix". Kaisa also carried out a six-month traineeship in 2014 in the UK at the University of Manchester at Institute of Inflammation and Repair studying the effect of probiotic lysates on the expression of ABC transporters in epidermal keratinocytes and intestinal epithelial cells.

Kaisa has worked in Reetta Satokari’s group since 2011, first as a research assistant, then as a doctoral student of microbiology and now as a post-doctoral researcher. The focus of her PhD project was isolating and identifying anti-inflammatory commensals from healthy human gut and characterizing the most interesting, anti-inflammatory action exerting isolates in more detail e.g. their adhesion and epithelial cell strengthening capacity.

Besides work, Kaisa is passionate about latin dances, such as salsa, sensual bachata and reggaeton, as well as traveling.

Aki Ronkainen, MSc, Doctoral Researcher

Aki Ronkainen

Anna Hartikainen, MSc, Doctoral Researcher

Anna is a Doctoral Researcher and she is interested in host-microbe interactions and their study by bioinformatics. Her doctoral research project concentrates on studying the engraftment of bacteria in fecal microbiota transplantation and also the possible changes in functional capacity of the whole microbial ecosystem after FMT.

Before, Anna has worked as a research assistant in Satokari group, and during that time she became fascinated by the microbiome research. She has participated in group's several projects and has worked for example with DNA-based methods in the wet lab. In addition, Anna has worked in other laboratories and she was also a trainee in the Finnish Food Authority.

Berta Bosch, MSc, Doctoral Researcher

Berta Bosch started on September 1st 2020 as a Doctoral Researcher in Satokari’s group and she will be working on new formulations of microbiome-based therapies. Berta has graduated from master’s itinerary in ‘Care in Pharmacy and Clinical Analysis’ in Pharmacy at the University of Barcelona, Spain. During her studies she has developed a special interest in clinical and microbiology topics and participated in Univ. Barcelona institutional activities related to microbiology. In 2019, she participated in an Erasmus+ program of the European Commission at UH, where she did her Master´s thesis in the Bioactivity Screening group, Fac. Pharmacy. The thesis topic was ‘Development of imaging-based assay to assess adherence and invasion of uropathogenic Escherichia coli to host cells’.

The aims of her PhD project research arise from the previous studies of the research group and are closely integrated to others on-going research both in the laboratory and clinic. The aims are i) to develop protocols for anaerobic preparation of fecal material and to study its microbiological stability over freeze-storage at -80ºC, and ii) to use the anaerobically processed transplantation material in a clinical trial in Helsinki University Central Hospital. The aim is also iii) to develop formulations for the encapsulation of pure strains of intestinal bacteria, which would facilitate their use as orally administered next-generation probiotics.

When she is not working in her project, she enjoys spending time with her friends, reading, hiking and some other outdoors activities.

Former group members

Jing Cheng, PhD 

Ida Pakola, MSc

Maiju Suutarinen, MSc

Hanne Jouhten, MSc

Helena Vähä-Mäkilä, MSc

Veera Kainulainen, PhD

Jonna Jalanka, PhD

Sofia Wiksten, Research assistant