Present lab members and alumni

Andrii Domanskyi, Ph.D., Docent, Senior Investigator

I am strongly convinced that good science and successful research projects can only thrive in motivating and friendly research environment. Great ideas will never get realised without talented and hard-working people who are the most valuable part of any research team. I am doing my best to attract young, knowledgeable and motivated scientists and create working atmosphere of mutual respect, trust and support in our team. Friendly and constructive work relationships and teamwork together with good laboratory practice standards, safety, and careful experimental design are essential for research team success and scientific integrity of the obtained data. I am committed to life-long learning and everyday professional development, as this is the only way one can keep up with a rapid progress of modern science. I am strongly encouraging open research discussions and “brain storming” sessions focusing on finding best ways for further progress of our research projects, stimulating professional development of younger colleagues and preparing them for successful scientific career.

In my free time I enjoy a company of our twin daughters, Finnish nature, swimming, cycling and riding bike.

Andrii's publications and researcher profile in the University of Helsinki research portal.

Piotr Chmielarz, Ph.D., Post doctoral researcher

I am interested in understanding why and how organisms age, with the focus on age-related neurodegenerative disorders. Moreover, I am fascinated by current AI revolution, and it’s applications to solving scientific problems specifically in areas of microscopy and imaging and big data analysis. 

Piotr's publications and researcher profile in the University of Helsinki research portal.

Julia Konovalova, M.Sc., Ph.D. student

Neurodegenerative disorders are common and incredibly devastating conditions, which, despite many years of research, are still poorly understood. My PhD project aims to further explore pathophysiological mechanisms underlying development and progression of Parkinson's disease - one of the most common neurodegenerative disorder. Particularly, I am interested to study the role of microRNAs, small regulatory RNAs, and examine therapeutical potential of their manipulation in Parkinson's disease.

Looking back at the history of science, I cannot stop being fascinated by the progress of humanity during last century. Incredible discoveries, which transformed our world, had been done in times when scientific methodology and resources were limited. These days using advanced technologies, science is driven forward faster than ever and I am proud to contribute to its development.

Julia's publications and researcher profile in the University of Helsinki research portal.

Şafak Er, M.Sc., Ph.D. stu­dent

It is still a mystery what is the exact role of certain protein aggregates in various central nervous system diseases: Lewy bodies in Parkinson’s disease, Aβ plaques and tau tangles in Alzheimer’s disease, etc. There is a high chance that common molecular and/or genetic pathways contribute to these protein accumulation phenotypes in neurodegenerative disorders. My interest in this big picture is distributed between the alpha-synuclein in Parkinson’s disease, and β-amyloid variants in ischemia. I have a background in molecular biotechnology and genetics, so I also focus on developing new tools to investigate these phenotypes on a genetic level. By having a multiple perspective approach, I am aiming to gain more insight into this centennial mystery.

In daily life, I enjoy solving other challenging puzzles like origami, and being in nature by activities like scuba diving and hiking.

Il­mari Parkkinen, M.Sc. (Pharm), Ph.D. stu­dent

I completed my M.Sc. degree in pharmacy at the University of Helsinki majoring in pharmacology. For my Master's thesis, I developed a cell-based fluorescent assay for finding compounds which modulate the activity of Dicer.

My doctoral research focuses on proteostasis in dopamine neurons with implications to Parkinson's disease. I am particularly interested in the homeostasis and function of the endoplasmic reticulum in midbrain dopamine neurons, especially during their degeneration and repair. I use a multitude of biochemical and molecular biology techniques including CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing technology. In addition to genetic methods, high-content image analysis and pharmacological interventions are key tools in my research to dissect the aforementioned cells in various in vitro (human stem cell-derived dopamine neurons and primary neuronal cultures) and in vivo models. The ultimate goal of my research is to illuminate the inner workings of dopamine neurons and to find new drug targets and treatments (be it any therapeutic modality) for Parkinson’s disease.

In addition to research, I am enthusiastic about science communication.

Outside the lab, I enjoy spending most of my time with our two poodles.

Suvi Pöy­hönen, M.Sc. (Pharm), Ph.D. stu­dent

I’m interested in enhancing the regenerative potential of the brain after ischemic reperfusion injury with therapeutic biological drug molecules. My research involves studying differentiation of human induced pluripotent stem cells into neurons, and reprogramming of human astrocytes into neurons, as well as dampening injury by systemic administration of molecules. My goal is to reveal the mechanism and roles of specific proteins in differentiation and reprogramming to facilitate the efficacy and neurite extension capacity. By establishing new labelling technology in Finland, I aim to find the critical molecular pathways involved in neurite extensions, identify and validate novel drug targets to develop new drug therapies to promote stroke recovery.

Besides science, I enjoy outdoor activities, and I especially like hiking. I am passionate about ice swimming and smoke sauna (savusauna, the original Finnish sauna).

Jouni Kärkkäinen, M.Sc. (Bio­chem), M.Sc. (Pharm) stu­dent

I am currently focused on searching for molecules that would upregulate expression of endogenous neurotrophic factors, and developing assays relevant to that endeavor. In my recent work, I have been able to establish completely new methods with CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing technology, and I am thrilled about that. My dream is quite obviously to contribute to a future where neurodegenerative ailments would be abolished. Being optimistic, I subscribe to the words of David Hilbert: “We must know – we will know!”

In addition to my work, I also enjoy things like programming and singing in the YL Male Voice Choir. The insights into science and futurism by Isaac Arthur’s Youtube channel are always a delight.

Jette Sakki, B.Sc., M.Sc. student (Pharm. and TransMed)

I am currently finishing two Master's degrees: one in Translational medicine and another in Pharmacy, specializing in pharmacology. I have also done additional courses in genetics and biotechnology, as I find it useful to have varied skills to do good research. As the problems faced in research are often complex, multidisciplinary knowledge and a passion for learning are important to me.

My primary research interest is Parkinson's disease, and both of my theses focus on it from slightly different angles. In Andrii Domanskyi's lab, I have been investigating how alpha-synuclein and its different mutated forms aggregate and phosphorylate. I plan to continue my career in research and to do a PhD, allowing me to investigate Parkinson's disease and other mysteries of neuroscience further.

When not in the lab, I enjoy reading, running, traveling and spending time with my friends, family and cats.

Irena Hlushchuk, M.Sc. (Pharm) stu­dent

I enjoy learning, discovering new and teaching it further on. I have a Degree of provisor from Lviv National Medical University, Ukraine, and now I’m trying to make my skills and knowledge useful in the neuroscience research.

 On my free time I fancy reading and walking in the nature, as well as smart humor and good food :)

Paula Col­lin, Labor­at­ory tech­ni­cian

At BI HISTOSCANNER in Viikki we provide a service for both academia and companies. I also carry out various assays for analysis of RNA, DNA, and proteins.

Outside work I enjoy sporty activities like agility with my Australian shepherds and on the other hand relaxing in nature and my garden.


Alexander Sommer, Laura Bandrés, Sofia Carrion-Falgarona, Neha Pratap Singh, Shirin Soleimanbeigi, Justyna Barut, Joel Noutere, Leevi Lehtonen, Evgeni Grazhdankin, Sabita Kawan, Marie Tautou, Sven Kluske, Qingxuan Lai, Gabriela Olech-Kochańczyk