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.

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]

Saara Forsström, Postdoctoral Researcher

Postdoctoral Researcher, Ph.D.

saara.forsstorm [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.

Satu Malinen, Ph.D. Student

Doctoral Researcher, M.Sc.

satu.malinen [at]

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 Ikonen, PhD Student

Doctoral Researcher, M.D.

lilli.ikonen [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]

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]

Kaisa Sarkkinen, Project Coordinator

Project Coordinator, M.Sc.

kaisa.a.sarkkinen [at]

Former group members

Jana Buzkova, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Researcher

Essi Havula, 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