Our international Mitochondrial morphogenesis research group, Zhao Lab, works in the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences in Viikki Campus, University of Helsinki.
Hongxia Zhao, Principle Investigator

I carried out my PhD thesis work in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Helsinki, where I studied how antimicrobial peptides bind and change cellular membrane structure to specifically kill bacteria. During my postdoctoral work in Pekka Lappalainen’s laboratory, I focused on how animal cells rely on cytoskeletal and membrane-bending proteins to acquire specialized architectures that support their cellular functions. I started my own group in 2013 to study proteins critical for mitochondrial morphogenesis, dynamics, and translation. We aim to understand how mitochondrial membrane ultrastructure is generated and maintained, how mitochondrial membrane dynamics are regulated, and how the mitoribosomes are assembled.


Kwon Hyuk Nam, Postdoc

I have worked in drug development for pharmaceutical companies for several years and have extensive experience in recombinant protein research. Since then, I started my PhD at Seoul National University in South Korea and received the PhD degree in 2018. My main research theme during my PhD was metabolomics, particularly in the clinical and pharmaco-metabolomics fields. Since 2018, I’ve started my postdoctoral research in the kidney developmental field at the University of Helsinki, and I joined Zhao’s lab in 2021. Now I’m working on mitochondrial membrane remodeling. 


Hoiying Tsang, Postdoc

I did my doctoral study on the establishment of a human iPSC-derived liver organoid model at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Currently, I am interested in studying proteins that are involved in mitochondrial dynamics. In my free time, I like music (playing piano, accordion, guitar), learning languages (Japanese, Finnish, Italian) and baking.

Shipeng Xiao, Postdoc

I received my medical doctorate in clinical medicine at Cheeloo College of Medicine, Shandong University, China. During my doctoral work, I focused on the development of scaffolds for tissue engineering, novel carriers for drug delivery, and stem cells in articular cartilage repair. Then I became an orthopedic surgeon in the second hospital affiliated with Shandong University. At present, I work as a postdoctoral researcher in the Molecular and Integrative Biosciences Research Program (MIBS) at the University of Helsinki. My research aims to identify and characterize novel proteins important for mitochondrial morphogenesis and dynamics in order to better understand the underlying molecular mechanisms and their functional links to human diseases. In my free time, I love sports, traveling, and photographing nature.


Liang Wang, PhD

Taru Hilander, postdoc,

Marius Robciuc, postdoc

Isabel C Mogollon Figueroa, postdoc

Surjya Dash, postdoc

Behnam Lak, postdoc

Tanzeela Bashir, research assistant

Ziyi Yan, research assistant

Owen Foley, research assistant 

Weihuan Wang, research assistant