We are the people of the Tracers in Molecular Imaging group!

Sarparanta, Mirkka

I am an Acedemy of Finland Research Fellow (2018–2023) and the group leader of the Tracers in Molecular Imaging Group since January 2020. I have been a member of the TRIM team since the beginning of my Ph.D. studies in Radiochemistry in 2007. My Ph.D. studies were focused on the development of fluorine-18 -radiolabeled molecular imaging tools for the in vivo evaluation of porous silicon drug delivery systems, which sparked the interest to remain in the "margins" of radiopharmaceutical chemistry developing new molecular imaging tools to facilitate the translation of promising nanoscale drug delivery systems and materials from in vitro cell models to preclinical models. After my Ph.D., I trained years 2014–2016 under the mentorship of Dr. Jason S. Lewis as a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Radiology at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA. Upon return to Helsinki, my research has focused on the development and evaluation of multimodality imaging probes for nanocrystalline cellulose (CNC) and lignin drug delivery systems, and tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes in cancer immunotherapy. I especially enjoy the multidisciplinary nature of radiopharmaceutical chemistry, which allows me to combine radiochemistry, biochemistry, cell biology, physiology, histology, and laboratory animal science without having to pick one discipline! My research is currently funded by the Academy of Finland, and I am a supervisor of five Ph.D. students at the Doctoral Programme for Chemistry and Molecular Sciences (CHEMS-DP). I also manage the Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry services provided by our group through the Helsinki Animal in Vivo Imaging Platform (HAIP) and Biocenter Finland.


Nyman, Markus

I got my B.Sc. and M.Sc degrees at the University of Jyväskylä, testing radiation detectors. After that I started doctoral studies in the Gamma spectroscopy group at the accelerator laboratory of the Department of Physics, University of Jyväskylä. In my Ph.D. work I studied in-beam and decay spectroscopy of very neutron-deficient bismuth and astatine nuclei. After finishing the Ph.D. in 2009 I worked for one year as a laboratory engineer here in the Radiochemistry Laboratory, Department of Chemistry, University of Helsinki. After that I did some teaching, including the spring semester in 2011 as a primary school science teacher in Vantaa. Subsequently I went to work as a researcher in the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission in Geel, Belgium, measuring cross sections of inelastic neutron scattering. After almost nine years in Belgium, I returned back to Finland in February 2021 to take up the formidable task of replacing Kerttuli Helariutta as the senior laboratory engineer here at the Department of Chemistry. I am responsible for the cyclotron, radiation detectors, radiation safety, teaching nuclear spectrometry, and other support for scientific research. I am looking forward to participating in the various interesting research programs that are being conducted here!

Keinänen, Outi M

I started my Academy of Finland postdoctoral fellowship in September 2020. I’m interested in utilizing molecular imaging to track the bioaccumulation and bioretention of micro- and nanoplastic in mammals. For this purpose, I’m developing radiolabeling methods for plastic materials, such as polystyrene, polyethylene and polypropylene. I did my PhD studies in TRIM team (2013-2018) after which I moved to New York to join Dr. Brian M. Zeglis’ lab at Hunter College where I will continue to conduct majority of my Academy of Finland fellowship. In my Ph.D. studies I used bioorthogonal chemistry for in vivo pretargeting. I’m still very interested and excited about the applications of pretargeting in molecular imaging.


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Biti, Anisa

I originally come from Albania, a beautiful country in  Southeast Europe. After high school, I moved to Italy to pursue a single-cycle Master´s degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology  at University of Siena. This degree  focuses on chemical, biochemical and chemical-pharmaceutical disciplines, with particular emphasis on practical laboratory activities. Due to this multidisciplinary approach I have a solid background not only in organic and medicinal chemistry but also in biology and other related disciplines. On the last year of my Master's degree I carried out my experimental thesis in the Drug Research Program at the University of Helsinki under the guidance of Prof. Jari Yli-Kauhaluoma as an Erasmus student. My thesis work  focused on the synthesis of novel nature-inspired compounds as quorum sensing inhibitors capable of tackling the bacterial biofilm of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a leading multi-drug resistant pathogen. During this experience I fell in love with Finland.

I started my Ph.D. studies in January 2020 under the supervision of Dr. Mirkka Sarparanta. My research project is focused on the development of PET and multimodal imaging tools for the tracking of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes in vivo in the course of cancer immunotherapy. The future of drug discovery remains exciting and I think that radiopharmaceuticals will play a crucial role in this process.


Centanni, Alessia

I achieved a master’s degree after graduating from the University of Urbino (Division of Biomolecular Science, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology), Italy. Being a passionate student, I gained consolidated knowledge of fundamental subjects as well as related applied disciplines. During my study I became interested in pharmaceutical chemistry. This prompted me to carry out my experimental thesis in the Drug Research Program (DRP) at the University of Helsinki under the guidance of Prof. Jari Yli-Kauhaluoma as an Erasmus student. My thesis work at DRP aimed towards the synthesis of novel marine alkaloid derivatives as possible antileishmanial agents. Having enjoyed the academic working environment at the University of Helsinki, I pursued an Erasmus+ traineeship in the DRP in the same topic. During these experiences I fell in love with Helsinki city as well as research.

I started my Ph.D. studies in January 2021 under the supervision of Dr. Mirkka Sarparanta. My research project is focused on PET imaging tracers to visualize immune checkpoint inhibition and activated T cells in vivo in the course of cancer immunotherapy. What I love the most about my project is the multidisciplinarity, allowing me to develop a wide range of skills from different disciplines. I am confident gaining expertise in Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry will shape my future as a researcher and hopefully give my contribute to oncologic imaging.


Khng, You-Cheng

I obtained B.Sc. (Hons) in Molecular and Cell Biology from the National University of Singapore in 2018. I have started my doctoral studies in Doctoral Program in Chemistry and Molecular Sciences (CHEMS-DP) at the department of chemistry, University of Helsinki in September 2019. As I am keen on the multidisciplinary aspects in radiochemistry, my doctoral studies are in collaboration between TRIM and Radionuclide Fate and Reaction groups under the supervision of Dr. Mirkka Sarparanta and Prof. Gareth Law. My projects focus on the studies of radioactive cesium-rich microparticles (CsMP) released by the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) incident in 2011 and their behavior as well as the biological responses triggered in respiratory system. 


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Lambidis, Eliza

I originally come from beautiful Greece. I have also lived abroad for quite a long period of time. I did my bachelor’s and master’s studies in chemistry and bioimaging sciences in England where I participated in bioinorganic, analytical and molecular biology projects. Later, I decided to live in Hong Kong to get the Asian cultural experience. There I obtained my second master’s degree which was based on organic synthesis and photophysical measurements of theranostic agents. Moreover, in the beginning of this year (2017), I took the challenge and moved to Finland. Here, I will conduct research in radiochemistry within the TRIM team, synthesizing radiopharmaceuticals for PET/ SPECT imaging which is my greatest interest. My first project is based on a gallium-68 pretargeting probe for PET imaging. Apart from research and travelling, I like keeping a healthy lifestyle, listening to live music and spending time with my family and friends.

Contact infromation:, +358 2941 50532

Lumén, Dave

I started my Ph.D studies in January 2016 and my topic is synthesis of In-111 and Ga-68 radiopharmaceuticals via biorthogonal click reactions, more especially reactions with tetrazine-DOTA molecules.  I have also done my bachelor and master theses in the TRIM team. I started as a summer worker 2013 and have been group member since then. During this time I have worked with different nuclides e.g. F-18 and I-131. I have been trained to operate cyclotron and I have permission to work with animals (mice and rats).

Contact information:, +358 2941 50149

Otaru, Sofia

I started my Ph.D in the radiopharmaceutical group TRIM team in February 2017. 

My background is in organic chemistry. I did my B.Sc in medicinal chemistry of the topic: ”Optimization of Claisen rearrangement” in the pharmaceutical industry. I did my Master’s thesis as a joint project of organic and radiochemistry laboratories, during which I started my work in TRIM team. After my thesis I also worked as a research assistant in TRIM team for three months. I worked as a research assistant for two months in the organic laboratory synthesizing new drug candidates under the supervision of Professor Wähälä in the University of Helsinki.

My research interests are in the area of PET- and SPECT-imaging, pharmaceuticals, pretargeting and theranostics.


Contact information:, +358 2941 50385

Choulot, Luna

I´m a French student, at the University of Helsinki for a three-month internship as an Erasmus student. I am currently in my first year of a master's degree (my second year of Engineering school at ENSI Caen) in organic chemistry and chose to do my compulsory internship abroad in Finland. I wanted to explore another field in Chemistry and the subject of my internship seems very interesting! So, I am currently working on synthesis of high-purity precursors for positron emission tomography (PET) radiopharmaceuticals with in the Ph.D. project of Alessia. I've been here for only for two weeks and I'm already very excited about what I'm doing and learning!

Group Alumni

Sudeep Das, postdoctoral researcher (2018—2022)

Elina Pettilä, B.Sc. student (2022)

Jarno Hendriksen, laboratory technician trainee (2021)

Kristyna Kroftova, Erasmus exchange student (2021)

Asta Hilppö, B.Sc. student (2021)

Konstantin Matjusinski, B.Sc. student (2021)

Associate Prof. Anu J. Airaksinen, principal investigator and group leader (2006—2021)

Dr. Tiina Ujula, postdoctoral researcher (2018—2021)

Dr. Surachet Imlimthan, Ph.D. researcher (2016—2021)

Dr. Kerttuli Helariutta, Senior Laboratory Engineer (2001—2021)

Dr. Andreas Paulus, postdoctoral researcher (2019—2020)

Marlene Schlesinger, Erasmus exchange student (2020)

Senja Hakola, M.Sc student (2020)

Jarkko Lampuoti, M.Sc student (2020)

Martta H Peltoniemi, B.Sc student (2020)

Dr. Ana Fraguas Sánchez, postdoctoral researcher (2020)

Tatu Martinmäki, M.Sc student (2020)

Isa Coopmans, technician trainee (2020)

Iida Hirsso, M.Sc student (2019)

Iiro Rautsola, M.Sc. student (2019)

Adriana Filipek, Erasmus M.Sc. student (2018—2019)

Dr. Teija Koivula, postdoctoral researcher (1999—2019)

M.Sc. Marcus Lindgren, summer trainee (2018)

M.Sc. Osku Alanen, research assistant (2018)

Dr. Sanjeev Ranjan, postdoctoral researcher (2017—2018)

Dr. Ulrika Jakobsson, postdoctoral researcher (2015—2018)

Kirsi Kepsu, bachelor student (2018)

Anita Nurminen, bachelor student (2018)

Danni Ramdhani, visiting researcher (2017—2018)

Vilma Jallinoja, M.Sc. student (2017)

Pauline Lang, Erasmus M.Sc. student (2017)

Chiara Timperanza, Erasmus M.Sc. student (2017)