Group members

Our group contact information.

Faculty of Medicine
Human Microbiome Research Program (HUMI)
P.O. / Box 21
Haartmaninkatu 3
00290 University of Helsinki

HELMI reasearch contact information:

Anne Salonen

Principal investigator, Director of Human Microbiome Research Program

PhD, Docent

Anne Salonen has multidisciplinary training in biosciences and PhD in molecular virology (2004). She has studied human microbiomes since 2007. Her current research focuses on early life microbiota, microbiota-driven dietary response stratification and the role of vaginal microbiota in obstetric and gynaecological health.

Contact information:

Willem M. de Vos

Emeritus Professor of Human Microbiomics and co-Principal Investigator of the HELMI birth cohort

Alise Ponsero

Post-doctoral researcher

Alise Ponsero is a microbiologist with a passion for data science! She received her PhD in microbiology from the University of Paris-Saclay (France), working on redox biology and protein secretion in the baker’s yeast. After her PhD, she pursued a second master’s degree in computer science to gain critical computational skills. She joined in 2018 the Dr. Hurwitz lab at the University of Arizona as a postdoctoral fellow, where she was involved in the development of cyberinfrastructures aiming to help microbiologists to share their data and run large-scale analyses on connected supercomputing resources. In 2021, she joined the group as a postdoctoral fellow working on the HELMi project. Her current research focuses on the development of bioinformatic tools to analyze massive metagenomic datasets, leveraging her expertise in both microbialogy and bioinformatics.  

Eveliina Hanski

Post-doctoral researcher

Eveliina Hanski's (PhD, 2023) research focuses on the drivers and consequences of gut microbiota maturation in early life. In particular, she studies the relative importance of pre and post-natal factors on the developing gut community, as well as whether microbiota maturation trajectories predict health outcomes.

Ching Jian


The focus of my phD project has been unraveling the interplay between the human intestinal microbiota, diet and intestinal barrier function in the context of non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases and type 2 diabetes, by both association studies (next-generation sequencing of bacterial 16S rRNA) and in vitro mechanistic studies.


Roosa Jokela

PhD student

My project is based on HELMi cohort study data collected in this group. My study will focus on characterising the development of intestinal microbiota of infants ages 0-2 and how that relates to infant health. The main focus will be on the following effectors and their combinatory effects: birth mode, breastfeeding, antibiotics, probiotics and FUT2 genotype.

Schahzad Saqib

PhD student

My project is part of the Sweet Crosstalk International Training Network and will explore the interactions between the vaginal microbiota and the cervicovaginal mucus in terms of health, HPV infection, and infertility. In the scope of this project we will utilize next generation sequencing and mass spectrometry techniques coupled with bioinformatics.

My research interests fall within cancer biology, immunology & the microbiome project with direct clinical applications. In terms of studies I have significant interests in neurosciences, organic chemistry, and quantum mechanics

Dollwin Matharu

PhD student

I graduated from Savitribai Phule Pune University in India, with a M.Sc. degree in Biotechnology. I was introduced to the field of microbiome in my master's project, where I studied the effect of mild traumatic brain injury on gut microbiota dynamics. As an ESR in the Sweet Crosstalk network, my PhD project will utilize the HELMI cohort data to understand how glycans in mother milk affect infant immunity and their gut microbiome structure. I am interested in learning more about the data analysis of the 16S rRNA gene seq and animal experiments using murine models. In my leisure days I like to write, travel, experience the local culture and listen to music.

Seppo Virtanen

MD, PhD student

Kaisa Kervinen

MD, PhD student

Anastasia Galperina

MSc student

I graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with degrees in Biology and Computer Science where my research focused on testing novel antimicrobials that targets pathogens without disastrous consequences on commensal bacteria. I am currently pursuing my masters in Translational Medicine at the University of Helsinki and writing my thesis in the Salonen group. My project focuses on understanding the dynamics of viral auxiliary metabolic genes in the infant gut microbiota. In my free time I like to bake and try new recipes, explore the Finnish nature and travel.



Tuomas Heini

M.Sc., Research Technician, HUMI-coordinator

Tuomas (M.Sc.; B.Eng.) has worked as a Product Developer in dietary supplement industry and as a Research Technician in the University of Helsinki. His research has focused mainly on human microbiology and clinical nutrition.

Alumni mem­bers
  • Katri Korpela, Pia Rasinkangas, Francois Douillard: Post-docs
  • Afshan Saleem: PhD student
  • Emilia Lahtinen, Sonja Kanerva, Prabin Koirala: MSc students
  • Sophie Ouabbou: MD, MSc student
  • Laura Degerstedt, Laura Huuskonen: Laboratory technicians
  • Evgenia Dikareva, Tinja Kanerva: Human Microbiome Research Program (HUMI) coordinators / Research technicians
  • Elina Häivälä: Laboratory trainee
  • Kimmo Kontiainen, Jaana Valkeapää, Heli Suomalainen, Eevi Heitto, Janica Bergström, Anna Mantere: Study nurses
  • Anni Pöyliö, Annikka Alhokankare: Research assistant