Research group members.
Sanna Lehtonen

Sanna Lehtonen, PhD, professor

I have carried out my PhD work at the University of Helsinki on genes regulating kidney development. Following this, I worked in Prof. Marilyn Farquhar’s laboratory at the University of California San Diego, USA, concentrating on the role of the podocyte protein nephrin and its macromolecular complex as a regulator of podocyte function. Since 2007, I have been working as a group leader at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki. My main interest is to understand how kidney function is regulated in various disorders.

Rim Bouslama

Rim Bouslama, Pharm.D, doctoral researcher

I have earned my Pharmacy doctorate from Faculté de Pharmacie de Monastir, Tunisia, on Mycobacterium tuberculosis. I have also worked on the immune property of bovine colostrum at the University of Otago, New Zealand, and the role of megakaryocytes in immunity at Harvard University, USA. My doctoral research focuses on podocyte biology and the mechanisms leading to kidney disease.

Norman Carcaño

Norman Carcaño, MD, MSc, doctoral researcher

I have earned my Medical Doctor degree in the Technological Institute of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, followed by Master´s degree in biomedical research from the University of Navarra, Spain. In Navarra, I worked in Prof. Frühbeck´s laboratory defining the role of immunological response in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes. Currently, my work focuses on the development of new treatments for type 2 diabetes and diabetic kidney disease. In particular, my work concentrates on proteins and factors affecting insulin sensitivity and energy homeostasis in muscle and proximal tubule cells.

Laura Hautala

Laura Hautala, MSc, researcher

I have earned my Master’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Helsinki, after which I have been working in cancer research. At the moment, my work focuses on finding novel drug leads to treat type 2 diabetes from a library of small molecule compounds. The aim is to improve insulin sensitivity and prevent the development of diabetic kidney disease. I am also interested in the cellular mechanisms leading to type 2 diabetes and diabetic kidney disease in the muscle and proximal tubule cells.

Jette-Britt Naams

Jette-Britt Naams, MSc (Tech), doctoral researcher

I have graduated as a Master of Science in Technology from Tampere University of Technology, majoring in Tissue Engineering. My PhD work focuses on novel compounds that could potentially act as blood glucose lowering and renoprotective drug lead candidates. I am interested in the molecular mechanisms by which these compounds affect the glucose metabolism and apoptotic pathways in the muscle and kidney cells, and whether these compounds can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce signs of diabetic kidney disease in vivo.

Leena Saikko

Leena Saikko, BHc, biochemical laboratory scientist

Constanze Schmotz

Constanze Schmotz, PhD, postdoctoral researcher

I have graduated from Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg (Halle/Saale, Germany) in biochemistry and have earned my PhD degree at the University of Helsinki in the field of cell biology, focusing on virology, cell signaling, and protein networks. Currently, I study mechanisms involved in the development of type 2 diabetes and diabetic kidney disease. My work focuses on podocyte biology and mechanisms leading to podocyte injury, with a special interest in mechanobiology. In an interdisciplinary collaboration with the Norwegian startup company Vitroscope AS, I explore the effects of fluid flow shear stress on podocytes in vitro. I also study the role of lipid phosphatase SHIP2 in the development of type 2 diabetes and diabetic kidney disease and define the role of SHIP2 in cognitive comorbidities of type 2 diabetes.

PhD students

Eija Heikkilä, MSc, PhD student, thesis defence 2010

Mervi Ristola, MSc, PhD student, thesis defence 2012

Mervi Hyvönen, MD, PhD student, thesis defence 2013

Anita Wasik, MSc, PhD student, thesis defence 2014

Pauliina Saurus, MSc, PhD student, thesis defence 2016

Tuomas Tolvanen, MSc, PhD student, thesis defence 2018

Vincent Dumont, MSc, PhD student, thesis defence 2020

Sara Kuusela, MSc, PhD student, thesis defence 2021

Sonja Lindfors, MSc, PhD student, thesis defence 2023


Postdoctoral researchers

Neeta Datta, PhD, postdoctoral researcher until 2014

Surjya Dash, PhD, postdoctoral researcher until 2015

Hong Wang, PhD, postdoctoral researcher until 2018

Anita Wasik, postdoctoral researcher until 2019

Zydrune Polianskyte-Prause, postdoctoral researcher until 2021

Previous lab group images

Lehtonen Lab 2023

Lehtonen lab 2020

Lehtonen lab 2019

Lehtonen lab 2018

Lehtonen lab 2017

Lehtonen lab 2016

Lehtonen lab 2010

Lehtonen lab 2009