People

Let us introduce ourselves.
Tuomas Lilius, PI

I am M.D., Ph.D., docent of pharmacology and specialist of clinical pharmacology and therapeutics with roots in University of Helsinki. In addition to the university researcher and PI role at the University of Helsinki, I serve as head physician of the Finnish Poison Information Center and as visiting associate professor at University of Copenhagen.

Early during my medical studies I developed interest in neuropharmacology as a dynamic area of medical science. In my PhD work at Department of Pharmacology, I characterised novel pharmacological strategies for enhancing opioid analgesia under the supervision of professor Eija Kalso and docent Pekka Rauhala. After the PhD defence in 2014 and a short period of clinical work, I undertook a short postdoctoral period under the supervision of prof. Janne Backman and prof. Klaus Olkkola at Department of Clinical Pharmacology, University of Helsinki. During this period, I gained experience in designing clinical drug trials. In 2017–2020, I served as postdoc and assistant professor in professor Maiken Nedergaard’s laboratory in University of Copenhagen to study the recently characterised glymphatic system and especially its pharmacological modulation.

My current main research interest is in studying the neuropharmacology of the glymphatic system, and especially its modulation by anesthetics and analgesics as well as the effect of glymphatic flow on central pharmacokinetics of drugs. The other lines of research aim at improving anesthetic and analgesic efficacy through understanding individual drug response and investigating novel tools to monitor therapeutic drug concentrations in real-time. 

In my free time, I enjoy music, exercise, and spending time with my spouse and two kids.

Terhi Lohela, university researcher

I’m a specialist of anaesthesiology and intensive care medicine, with particular interests in intensive care medicine and neuroanaesthesiology. After finalizing my epidemiological PhD, I joined the Nedergaard group in the University of Copenhagen to study the recently described glymphatic system. My aim is to study the determinants of cerebrospinal fluid flow in patients, animal models and in epidemiological cohorts. I’m also particularly interested in developing more effective and individualized drug therapies through point-of-care testing and understanding individual variation in drug response.

In my free time I enjoy traveling, culture events and outdoor activities with my spouse and two sweet toddlers.

Marko Rosenholm, postdoc

I am a neuropharmacologist with a primary research interest in the pathophysiology and treatment of mood disorders, particularly major depression. I started my research career studying the shared neurobiological mechanisms underlying rapid antidepressant effects of anesthetics in the Faculty of Pharmacy in University of Helsinki. After my PhD in 2020, I joined Tuomas Lilius’ group – then situated in University of Copenhagen – and received an opportunity to study the function and pharmacological manipulation of the glymphatic system in prof. Maiken Nedergaard’s laboratory. My current work focuses mainly on SPECT/CT and MRI imaging of CSF tracers in vivo to examine the effects of pharmacological interventions on CSF flow and glymphatic brain clearance.

In addition to the brain, the other important b's in my life include bass guitar, birdwatching, badminton, and board games.

Marko Rosenholm LinkedIn

Hanna Antila, postdoc

I have a Master's degree in Pharmacology and my PhD was related to brain plasticity and antidepressant drugs. During my PhD, I was working also with the potential antidepressant effects of anesthetics, which got me interested in the naturally occurring reduced consciousness state, sleep. To learn more about sleep, I went to do a postdoc in a lab specialized in elucidating neuronal circuitries underlying sleep regulation at the University of Pennsylvania.

I’m especially interested in the regulation of sleep state transitions and the microarchitecture of sleep, and the consequences and possible means to rescue the situation if the regulation goes awry. I’m currently a postdoc in the Lilius lab examining the interplay between sleep and the glymphatic system, and how they are affected by diverse pharmacological agents.

During my free time I love to do all kinds of stuff depending on the season I’m in. Currently I’m apparently in a “grandma season” which means that I love to knit, make sourdough bread, pick mushrooms, spend time at mökki, use my Museum card regularly and do powerlifting. I really like to cook (but not to clean afterwards), and love good food, good wines and dinners with friends and family.

Hanna Antila LinkedIn

Jenni Anttila, postdoc

I have a Master’s (2013) and a PhD degree (2020) in pharmacology from the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Helsinki. In my PhD project I studied ischemic stroke and the role of mesencephalic astrocyte-derived neurotrophic factor (MANF) in stroke recovery.

I joined Tuomas Lilius’ group in August 2021 as a postdoctoral researcher. My postdoc project is focused on glymphatic drug delivery and how large molecule CNS therapeutics could be more efficiently delivered into the brain by lumbar intrathecal delivery and boosting of glymphatic cerebrospinal fluid flow. As the main method to study this, we use in vivo SPECT/CT imaging. I am situated at the Viikki campus where I am also a part of Tomi Rantamäki’s group at the Laboratory of Neurotherapeutics.

When not in the lab, I enjoy spending time with my family and having good food with a good Riesling.

Jenni Anttila LinkedIn

Elina Brinck, associated clinical researcher

I am a specialist in anesthesiology and intensive care medicine, with a subspecialty in neuroanesthesiology and neurointensive care.

My PhD project has focused on the effects of ketamine in acute postoperative pain. After defending my thesis later this year,  I’m enthusiastic about continuing research on neuropharmacology of anesthesia and analgesia and applying the findings to clinical setting.

Kim Blomqvist, postdoc/visiting scholar

I am a general dentist passioned about oral and maxillofacial surgery, pain medicine, pharmacology, neuroscience, and anesthesiology.

In my PhD, I studied possibilities to improve safety and efficacy of opioid analgesics.

Next to science, I enjoy riding a motorcycle.

Johanna Kujala, PhD student

My backround is in clinical medicine. I’m specialist in anesthesiology, intensive care and pain medicine with special interest in pain management. I am head of South Carelian Central Hospital pain clinic, where we practice multdisciplinary pain management including psychological, physioterapeutic and medical treatment, and also invasive pain management such as spinal cord stimulation.

I have joined Lilius’ group in 2020 in pursue of clinical validation of an electrochemical tool which has been developed for fast detection of different analgesics. At the moment my work concentrates on paracetamol.

I do my PhD research part-time. When I’m not working, I spend time with my husband and three children, play and listen to classical music or tend to my garden.

Daniel Persson, PhD student

I have a BSc in biomedicine received from Lund University 2017, and a MSc. in Immunology and Inflammation received from University of Copenhagen 2021. I performed my master’s thesis, in the lab of professor Maiken Nedergaard, utilizing MRI to map the effect different anesthetic regiments have on CSF flow in rodent brain and concurrently developed a great interest in the role of the glymphatic system.

Since May 2021 I’m part of the Lilius lab, working with imaging of the glymphatic function, focusing on modulating the clearance of contrast agents from the brain parenchyma and delivery of CSF infused drugs to the CNS.

Besides science, I have been a scout all my life, I enjoy being out in the nature and I tend to go for a run almost every day.

Daniel Persson LinkedIn

Iina Annala, PhD student

I am a PhD student with great enthusiasm for pharmacology, neuroscience, and drug discovery. I studied pharmacy in University of Helsinki and got my Master of Pharmacy degree in 2021. In my PhD project, supervised by Tomi Rantamäki and Tuomas Lilius, I study the effects and mechanism of action of ketamine and nitrous oxide. Besides being anesthetic agents, these drugs have been shown to have rapid antidepressant effects in depressed patients. I am focusing on investigating the antidepressant actions, utilizing electrophysiological, biochemical and behavioral experiments in vivo, as well as in vitro methods. In addition, I make use of computational methods to study the effects of the compounds at molecular level, potentially paving way to find new molecules with antidepressant potential. 

Outside the lab I like to ride a bike and spend time in nature, as well as visit my home town in Southern Ostrobothnia.

Martta Peltoniemi, PhD student

I have a Master´s (2023) in Chemistry and Molecular sciences from the Faculty of Science, University of Helsinki, and during my Masters studies I focused especially in radiochemistry and radiopharmaceutical chemistry. In my PhD I am focusing on the development of new radiolabeled tracers for the nuclear imaging of glymphatic fluid flow. My PhD is a collaboration between Tuomas Lilius' group and Tracers in Molecular Imaging -Team with Mirkka Sarparanta. 

Moritz Skogster, research assistant

I am a medical student at the University of Helsinki. Besides my medical studies, I also study bioinformatics part-time at Aalto University. My general interests include pharmacology and medical technology, and that’s mostly why I originally joined Tuomas´ team in 2020. My current research project aims establish a fast and reliable way of measuring opioid concentrations in cerebrospinal fluid.

Besides academics, I enjoy working out at the gym, doing various outdoor activities, and seeing friends.

Melina Farzaneh, medical student

I’m a second year medical student in University of Helsinki. Science in general has always fascinated me and I’m particularly interested in cognition and neuroscience.

In my free time I like to learn new things, take long walks in the nature and spend good time in good company. I also love travelling and learning about different cultures.

Maria Ruotsalainen, medical student

I am a fourth year medical student in University of Helsinki and currently doing my thesis in medicine with the Lilius group. My project is studying the pharmacokinetic interactions of S-ketamine and opioids.