We the RNAciers, the driving force who constantly look for unprecedented tRNA modifications focusing on the early infection stages in the host-pathogen interactions.

The RNAcious Laboratory

Molecular and Integrative Biosciences Research Programme                                                                      
Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Biocenter 1 (Viikinkaari 9 B) , Room 6232
P.O. Box 56
00014 University of Helsinki

03.04.2018 -
Currently on maternity leave

Email:  ulrike.abendroth(at)

Ulrike focuses on tRNA modifications and their effect(s) manifested during early viral infection cycles using plant-pathogen model.

01.08.2017 -

Phone:  +358 408385634


Email:    pavlina.gregorova(at)


Pavlina is involved in the project focusing on tRNA modifications and their effect(s) manifested during early stage of disease using cancer cell lines model.

Pavlina finished her both degrees (BSc., MSc.) in the field of Biochemistry at Masaryk University (Czech Republic).

In free time, she likes to do sports (jogging or cycling), plays clarinet, just wandering around city and exploring new places. :)

01.11.2016 - 31.01.2017
01.09.2018 -

Phone:   +358 2941 59427
Email:     hannu.hotti(at)

Hannu explores the evolutionary dynamics of tRNA modification changes on protein synthesis in cell-based biosynthesis systems. His project’s target is to enhance production of heterologous proteins by finetuning the tRNAs available for protein synthesis.

Hannu finished his M.Sc. degree in 2008 in the field of plant breeding, specializing in biotechnology. He subsequently defended his D.Sc. thesis at the University of Helsinki in 2016 on the topic “Killer of Socrates exposed – Coniine in the plant kingdom”. Hannu is passionate about molecular farming -- an area in which he concentrated on plant secondary metabolism and its biosynthesis prior to his postdoctoral work. Now he focuses on enhancing the production of heterologous proteins by modifying the chemical compositions of transfer RNAs.

In his free time, Hannu likes to play golf (during summer), read, listen to classical music, travel to new cities and study Latin and Roman history.

Hannu's work is supported by Academy of Finland Postdoctoral Researcher funding for the period 01.09.2018 - 31.08.2021.

01.01.2017 -

Phone:   +358 2941 59567
Email:    chasan.koh(at)

Cha San focuses on tRNA modifications and their effect(s) manifested during early viral infection cycles using various host-pathogen models.

With degrees in Biochemistry, Chemistry, and Molecular Physico-Chemistry (BSc., MSc., and PhD.), and postdoctoral experience in RNA biology (with emphasis on structural studies of ribosome complexes) in Uppsala (Sweden) and Massachusetts (United States), Cha San is passionate about the regulation of the translational machinery in cells. She is particularly interested in tRNA and rRNA modifications involved in the dynamics of the ribosomes for performing protein synthesis. To this end, she has utilized various structural, biochemical, and computational approaches to understand how the tRNA-mRNA like elements of viral internal ribosomal entry site (IRES) RNAs are precisely positioned and translocate through the host ribosomes for decoding.

01.09.2016 -

Group Leader
Academy of Finland Research Fellow

Phone: +358-2941-59533
Email:   peter.sarin(at)

University of Helsinki Researcher Database TUHAT

I started my scientific career in 2003 as a research assistant at the Animal Virus Laboratory of Dr. Tero Ahola (University of Helsinki), studying the differences in viral RNA synthesis in temperature-sensitive mutants of Semliki Forest Virus. Being infected with a passion for viruses, I carried out my M.Sc. studies in 2005 on the biochemical characterisation of the SARS coronavirus RNA-dependent RNA polymerase at the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence for Structural Virology 2000-2005 (University of Helsinki) under the supervision of Prof. Dennis Bamford. For my Ph.D. studies I continued at the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence for Virus Research 2006-2011 (University of Helsinki). With the inspiring mentorship of Dr. Minna Poranen and Prof. Dennis Bamford, I explored the molecular mechanism of bacteriophage phi6 RNA polymerase and its utilization in biotechnological applications, obtaining my Ph.D. degree in January 2011.

As a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Helsinki, I expanded my biochemical research into other viral polymerases, studied the membrane assembly phase of bacteriophage phi6, and developed RNA production and purification methods. Upon receiving the Sigrid Jusélius Fellowship (2012-2014), I entered the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine (Münster, Germany) to study the evolutionary role of tRNA modifications in response to cellular stress factors. Under the expert mentoring of Dr. Sebastian Leidel (Max Planck Research Group for RNA Biology), I co-developed a nano-LC mass spectrometry technique that is suitable for ribonucleoside analysis and allows accurate determination of changes in tRNA modification levels. Using this approach I revealed a temperature-dependent thiolation deficit in yeast. This unexpected result has generated attention at international conferences and was featured on the cover of the journal RNA (February 2015). I have also studied several closely related yeast strains following temperature stress and observed a marked difference in their tRNA modification levels (unpublished work), which suggests that environmental adaptation strongly influences stress responses.

I have been a Principal Investigator and Group Leader at the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, since September 2016. My current research is supported by the Academy of Finland (Academy of Finland Research Fellow 2016-2021), Sigrid Jusélius Foundation (Young Investigator grant 2017-2020), and Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki. I was appointed Docent in Molecular Biology by the University of Helsinki in 2014.

M. Suleman Qasim, M.Sc.
Research Assistant

Minna-Maria Heinonen
B.Sc. student in Molecular Biology at Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki

Berta Garrido Zabala
Erasmus Exchange student, Undergraduate at Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain

Basma Ragab
Undergraduate student, Master's Degree Programme in Biotechnology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

04.06.2018 -30.08.2018
José Luis Delgado Romo
Undergraduate student, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Mexico City, Mexico

15.05.2016 - 15.08.2017
Rajita Rayamajhi Thapa
M.Sc., Summer internship student, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

01.11.2016 - 30.03.2017
Duolong Zhu
Ph.D. Candidate, Visiting Scientist, Nankai University, Tianjin, China



JUNE 2019: TWO DOCTORAL STUDENTS AND A POSTDOCTORAL RESEARCHER WILL BE HIRED FOR A NOVO NORDISK FOUNDATION FUNDED PROJECT STARTING SEPTEMBER 1st 2019. Application deadline is August 7th 2019. Please read the application guidelines and submit your application via the University of Helsinki Recruitment System by following the above links and clicking the "Apply for the position" button.