Group members

Suomalainen-Wartiovaara group members.
Anu Suomalainen-Wartiovaara, Principal investigator

Principal investigator, M.D., Ph.D., Academy Professor

Biomedicum 1, Haartmaninkatu 8, 00290 Helsinki

+358-9-471 71965 

anu.wartiovaara [at]

Liliya Euro, University Researcher

University Researcher, Adjunct Professor, Ph.D.
liliya.euro [at]

I am a biochemist, working in Prof. Anu Wartiovaara laboratory since 2019. During these years, I was involved in numerous projects in the field of mitochondrial research and beyond. Practical and theoretical experience, which I gained, shaped my knowledge, skills, scientific thinking and approach to solve research questions. My area of expertise is rather broad and include protein chemistry, cellular metabolism, molecular mechanisms of pathology, methodology design and development. I enjoy teaching students, both experimental work and theory.

During past five years my research efforts are focused on redox metabolism in health and disease. I developed technology for redox profiling of biological samples including blood. It is easily accessible and allows measurement of NAD+, NADH, NADP+, NADPH and glutathiones using standard laboratory equipment. Originally, the tech was intended to solve our needs in the lab, but we soon realized that it can be applied and used much broadly. This led to establishment of a spin-out company from University of Helsinki, which we called NADMED.

Essi Havula, University Researcher

University Researcher, Ph.D.
essi.havula [at]

I completed my Ph.D. in 2017 at the University of Helsinki, Institute of Biotechnology in the field of molecular genetics. In my Ph.D. I studied the transcriptional control of sugar sensing by using Drosophila as a model organism. After completing my Ph.D., I moved to Australia to do my first postdoctoral training at the University of Sydney. During this time, I studied gene-interactions in both mice and flies with genetically diverse backgrounds to understand how the genetic makeup defines an optimal diet at an individual level.

As a postdoc in ASW lab I’m currently studying how stress signaling and novel sugar regulated genes affect sugar utilization, and how these mechanisms are affected in mitochondrial disease. Outside of lab I enjoy various sports, scuba diving, photography and generally spending time outdoors. Knitting is my preferred form of meditation.

Pirjo Isohanni, Senior Researcher

Senior Researcher, Adjunct Professor, M.D., Ph.D.
pirjo.isohanni [at]

Nahid Khan, University Reseracher

University Researcher, Ph.D.
nahid.khan [at]

I am a senior scientist working with Prof Anu Wartiovaara. I completed my Ph.D at Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) India. My research project was the first large cohort study to understand the clinical and genetic basis of mitochondrial diseases in the Indian population. Due to my immense interest in mitochondrial disease biology, I joined Prof. Wartiovaara at the University of Helsinki to explore more about mitochondrial disease pathophysiology and treatment. My ongoing projects are focused on metabolic changes in mitochondrial diseases, the role of NAD+ metabolism in mitochondrial diseases and its curative effect and mitochondrial stress response, especially in a tissue-specific manner.

I am a mom to two small kids and love spending time with them, I am also a history buff who loves reading and traveling.

Norman Zielke, University Researcher

University Researcher, Ph.D.
norman.zielke [at]

Yilin Kang, Post doc

Postdoctoral Researcher, Ph.D.
yilin.kang [at]

Yilin Kang is a European Molecular Biology Organisation Researcher Fellow in Wartiovaara group. Her research focuses on understanding how mitochondria and immune system synergize in health and diseases.

After completed her Ph.D. on exploring mitochondrial protein import and its role in diseases in Melbourne, Australia, Yilin took the opportunity to join Wartiovaara group in Finland in 2020. From a young age, Yilin finds biology interesting, and amazed by how a small modification in cellular process can implicate in devastating impacts. Her passion in life science drives her to be a mitochondrial biologist, she believes to improve the life quality of individuals suffering from mitochondrial diseases, we need to first uncover how the error occurs. 

Having the opportunity to move between countries in her scientific journey, Yilin gets to learn from amazing people around her. These experiences have taught her to remain curious, be courageous and be grateful to people and little things in life. “Life is too short to wait, so engage in it with wholeheartedness!”

Chaokun Li, Post doc

Postdoctoral Researcher, Ph.D. [at]

Chaokun earned her Ph.D. degree in 2020 from the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. During her doctoral studies, she focused on investigating the comparative genomic organization of the ruminant MHC region. Since 2021, she has been working as a postdoctoral researcher in the Wartiovaara group. Her current research aims to apply multi-omics techniques to uncover the molecular mechanisms involved in mitochondrial ataxia disorders and identify potential targets for treatment. 

Rimante Minkeviciene, Post doc

Postdoctoral Researcher, Ph.D.
rimante.minlkeviciene [at]

Rimante obtained her Master's degree in Neuroscience from Vilnius University, Lithuania, where she developed a passion for studying the brain and its functions. She pursued a specialized Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio, focusing on neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and epilepsy. During her doctoral studies, her research centered on uncovering the mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative diseases and identifying potential treatments.

Following her PhD, Rimante joined the Hotulainen Lab in 2011 as a post-doctoral researcher, where she applied her expertise in behavioral neuroscience and histology to various projects. Since 2022, she has been researching the involvement of mitochondrial dysfunction in neurons and the role of astrocytes in neurodegeneration and spongiosis in Wartiovaara Lab.

Beyond her professional pursuits, Rimante enjoys board games and the creative art of baking cakes and experimenting with new recipes.

Takayuki Mito, Post doc

Postdoctoral Researcher, Ph.D.
takayuki.mito [at]

Juho Aaltio, PhD Student

Ph.D. student, M.D.
juho.aaltio [at]

A recently graduated M.D. with a special interest in economics. Juho studies the cost-effectiveness of whole-exome sequencing in pediatric neurology patients, mainly analyzing results from the Academy-funded Neurogenomics Finland project.

Pieti Elonkirjo, PhD Student

Doctoral Researcher, M.Sc.
pieti.elonkirjo [at]

I attained my MSc in translational medicine (2020) and I’m now pursuing a degree in the Doctoral Programme in Integrative Life Sciences, both in the University of Helsinki. I am a molecular bioscientist with a strong background in both wet lab and in silico work. My scientific interests are biochemistry and metabolism – the breathtakingly complex processes that drive life itself. I find medical research motivating as I like helping others through my work.

My research in the ASW laboratory focuses on children’s mitochondrial brain diseases. I am investigating promising regulatory and metabolic candidate pathogenic mechanisms in these poorly understood pathologies. The aim of my research is to develop novel treatment modalities for these incurable children’s diseases.

Outside the laboratory my many hobbies range from astronomy to fencing and hiking - preferably with friends and loved ones.

Semin Erkul, PhD Student

Doctoral Researcher, M.Sc.
semin.erkul [at]

Kimmo Haimilahti, PhD Student

Doctoral Researcher, M.D.
kimmo.haimilahti [at]

I am an MD PhD student with over five years of experience in metabolic research with a special focus on NAD+. I started my research career by joining group of Eija Pirinen as a first-year medical student back in 2017. Two years later I decided to begin pursuing my PhD degree in groups of Anu Suomalainen-Wartiovaara and Eija Pirinen. The aim of my work is to improve wellbeing of patients with mitochondrial diseases. Therefore, I investigate vitamin B3 and NAD+ metabolism to unlock their secrets in health and disease.

Topi Hovinen, PhD Student

Doctoral Researcher, M.D.
topi.hovinen [at]

I'm a medical doctor, Ph.D. student and a Bachelor of Science/Technology, and have been part of ASW research group since 2016. My research explores the myriad of effects of nutrition and diets on metabolism, and to what extent these effects are in fact modifiable by life choices. My main expertise currently involve analyzing untargeted metabolomics, connecting results of data-driven scientific approaches with clinical framework and aspects relevant for real-life, and general planning and "bureaucracy" of research projects.

The impact of my research is to provide scientifically robust and reliable new knowledge on nutrition and human metabolism that benefits an individual or larger societies when making evidence-based decisions affecting daily wellbeing.

Apart from being a scientist, I work as a general practicioner in public health care. Outside work I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, and self-care in forms of disc golf and visiting a gym every now and then.

Anastasiia Marmyleva, PhD Student

Doctoral Researcher, M.Sc.
anastasiia.marmyleva [at]

Anastasiia is a doctoral student at Anu’s lab indulging herself on several interesting projects. The main focus of her work is on mitochondrial myopathy: how are different organs involved in the disease that mainly affects muscle? How does the cell react to mitochondria that started feeling under the weather? Anastasiia tries to find answers to these questions and more by breaking down the stress response events and individually investigating pieces of the bigger picture.

In her free time, Anastasiia partakes in science communication by leading a podcast at The Science Basement organization. One of the most exciting things is meeting other passionate researchers to learn about their work and academic lives. Simultaneously, crafting an engaging episode for fellow academics but also those further away from science. And of course, honing own skills in science communication.

Lilli Pihlajamäki, PhD Student

Doctoral Researcher, M.D.
lilli.pihlajamaki [at]

Swagat Pradhan, Phd Student

Doctoral Researcher, M.Sc.
swagat.pradhan [at]

Swagat received his Master’s degree in Biology from UM-DAE CBS, Mumbai, India in 2017. His Master’s thesis was in Anu Suomalainen-Wartiovaara’s lab where he studied mitochondrial integrated stress response by impairing mitochondrial function in cells using a mitochondrial translation inhibitor actinonin. 

He joined Anu-Suomalainen Wartiovaara’s lab in the end of 2017 as a research assistant and enrolled as a doctoral student in 2019. His primary research focus currently is to understand the mechanism of disease pathogenesis in mitochondrial dysfunction cell and mouse models. His major aim is to study glucose metabolism and signaling in skeletal muscle of a mitochondrial myopathy mouse model. 

He is interested in learning science communication and public speaking skills outside the lab. To hone these skills he is an active member of a public speaking club called Toastmasters in Helsinki.

Sofiia Rybas, PhD Student

Doctoral Researcher, M.D., M.Sc.
sofiia.rybas [at]

Sofiia embarked on her career journey in Ukraine where she obtained her medical degree and specialty training in general practice. She expanded her knowledge further in Master’s degree in drug discovery and development at the University of Turku. Working on her master’s project in Anu Wartiovaara group, she developed an interest in mitochondrial disorders. What was first simple curiosity developed into passion, and now she continues her work as a Doctoral student. The focus of Sofiia’s doctoral research is to shed light on the role of astrocytes in neurodegenerative diseases driven by mitochondrial dysfunctions. In her work, she also aims to reveal potential treatment strategies of these disorders.

Rohit Verma, PhD Student

Doctoral Researcher, M.D.
rohit.verma [at]

Aurelia Ahokas, Medical Student

Medical Student

aurelia.ahokas [at]

Satu Malinen, Master's Student

Master's Student

satu.malinen [at]

Tuomas Kukkonen, Master's Student

Master's Student, B.Sc.

tuomas.kukkonen [at]

Markus Innilä, Medical Laboratory Technologist

Medical Laboratory Technologist
markus.innila [at]

Sonja Jansson, Laboratory Technician

Laboratory Technician, M.Sc.
sonja.jansson [at]

Liina Lassila, Biomedical Laboratory Scientist

Biomedical Laboratory Scientist

liina.lassila [at]

Tuula Manninen, Senior Medical Laboratory Technologist

Senior Medical Laboratory Technologist
tuula.manninen [at]

Ilse Paetau, Laboratory Coordinator

Laboratory Coordinator, M.Sc.

ilse.paetau [at]

Alexandra Zhaivoron, Bioinformatist

Bioinformatist, B.Sc.

aleksandra.zhayvoron [at]

Jana Buzkova, Project planner

Ph.D., Project Planner (part time)
jana.buzkova [at]

Kaisa Sarkkinen, Project Coordinator

Project Coordinator, M.Sc.
kaisa.a.sarkkinen [at]

Former group members

Saara Forsström, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Researcher
Maxim Bespalov, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Researcher
Juan Cruz Landoni, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Researcher
Risto Pohjolan-Pirhonen, Doctoral Researcher
Tuomas Laalo, Medical Student
Gulayse Ince Dunn, Ph.D., Senior Researchert
Sara-Sofia Sahlman, Student
Olesia Ignatenko, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Researcher
Tõnu Margus, Ph.D., Bioinformatician
Sanna Matilainen, M.D., Ph.D., Postdoctoral Researcher
Anna Kuukasjärvi, Student
Catalina Vasilescu, Postdoctoral Researcher, Ph.D.
Li Ma, Postdoctoral Researcher, Ph.D.
Babette Hollmann, Project coordinator
Christopher Jackson, Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher
Samuli Kääriä, student
Maija Komonen, project coordinator
Kirsi Mattinen, laboratory coordinator
Hanna Haltia, student
Riikka Äänismaa, Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher
Virginia Brilhante, Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher
Simo Ojanen, student
Harri Hokkanen, student
Helena Hinterding, M.Sc.
Henriikka Vekuri, M.Sc.
Jenni Lehtonen, Ph.D.
Joni Nikkanen, Ph.D.
Christopher Carroll, Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher
Gabrielle Capin, visiting student
Mervi Kuronen, Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher
Iida-Marja Kleine, master student
Risto Lapatto, M.D., Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher
Eino Palin, M.D., Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher
Anna Hakonen, M.D., Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher
Mari Auranen, M.D., Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher
Sini Pirnes-Karhu, Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher
Anu Harju, Medical Laboratory Technologist
Mügen Terzioglu, Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher
Sanna Toivonen, Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher
Kati Ahlqvist, Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher
Dmitri Shilov, Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher
Eija Pirinen, Ph.D., Academy Research Fellow
Riikka Martikainen, Ph.D., Academy Research Fellow
Sofia Ahola, Ph.D.
Lotta Pasila, Student
Nagabhooshan Hegde, Graduate student
Antti Muranen, Project coordinator
Ana Latorre Pellicer, Visiting scientist
Hanna Koivumäki, Medical Laboratory Technologist
Alexandra Götz, Ph.D.
Rosanna Pöyhönen, M.Sc.
Valtteri Tulkki, Undergraduate student
Shuichi Yatsuga, M.D., Ph.D., postdoc
Silja Heiskanen, M.D.
Henna Tyynismaa, Ph.D., postdoc researcher
Minna Teerijoki, Undergraduate student
Emil Ylikallio, M.D., Ph.D.
Jonna Jalanka-Tuovinen
Milla Lampinen, Ph.D.
Petri Luoma, Ph.D., postdoc
Katja Mjøsund, Ph.D.
Nuno Raimundo, Ph.D., postdoc
Heini Ruhanen, UCL London
Esmaeil Kamali
Pieter Almgren, Lab technician student
Annamari Lesonen, M.Sc.
Marko Uutela, Ph.D., postdoc
Duygu Keser, Ph.D. student
Sanna Marjavaara, Ph.D., post-doc
Juho Kuula, Medical student