Researchers working in the Andressoo group.
Jaan-Olle Andressoo

Principal Investigator

I am fascinated by how regulation of gene expression affects complex phenotypes such as development and aging. I find particularly interesting how gene untranslated regions (UTRs) mediate regulatory processes such as microRNA binding or mRNA stability and whether targeted alterations of them can lead to scientific and therapeutic advances. Specifically, I aim to develop tools allowing control of endogenous morphogen expression to model and treat neurological diseases. I believe that an ability to regulate endogenous gene expression at the post-transcriptional levels has yet an enormous scientific, industrial, and therapeutic potential.

My favorite free time activities are sea kayaking, frisbee golf and drumming, not to mention fishing and different kinds of indoor and outdoor sports.


Daniel Garton

Ph.D. student

I graduated from Columbia University in 2016 where I majored in Neuroscience with a special concentration in Linguistics. During my studies at Columbia University, I spent 4 years working in Professor David Sulzer's lab, specializing in amphetamine pharmacology and autophagy. Upon graduation, I began my academic career in Helsinki as I completed 1 year of supervised, independent research with Jaan-Olle Andressoo's group after being awarded a Fulbright scholarship. Now, as I continue my research in the Andressoo group, my interests focus on neurotrophic factors, and how they modulate the basic biological underpinnings of neuronal function.


Ana Montaño

Ph.D. student

I received my B.Sc. degree in biology from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in 2013. During my B.Sc. studies I specialized in developmental biology and genetics, and developed my thesis on dietary antimutagenic compounds at the Antimutagenesis and Antiteratogenesis Lab in the same University. In 2017 I obtained the M.Sc. in Neuroscience from the University of Helsinki. I carried out my master's thesis on an Alzheimer's disease project at the Henri Huttunen lab, where I studied the effects of a circulating peptide on the growth and viability of primary neurons. I joind Andressoo's lab in 2017, where I have recently started my PhD project on the development of tools to regulate endogenous gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. My main scientific interest is to understand better the molecular, cellular and genetic bases of neurodegenerative diseases and to contribute to develop more effective ways to treat them.

Heikki Virtanen

Ph.D. student

I started my PhD in 2019. I have a Master degree in Pharmacology from the University of Helsinki. I completed my undergraduate degree in Pharmacy in 2016. In Jaan-Olle Andressoo’s lab, I have been studying a GFRA1 hypomorph mouse model and its Hirschsprung’s-disease-related phenotypes.

Sakari Hietanen

Ph.D. Student

I have Bachelor's degree from molecular biosciences and a Master's degree from genetics specializing in molecular and analytical health biosciences. In my Ph.D. studies I aim to apply my background in molecular biology and chemistry alongside with bioinformatics in order to understand the underlying molecular mechanisms that govern the regulation of gene expression, especially at post-transcriptional level. My aspiration is to be able to understand these systems at a level that would enable their utilization in improvement of global protein production as well as in creation of novel animal models.

Vilma Iivanainen

Ph.D. Student

I have a bachelor’s degree from Biology from the University of Turku and a master’s degree from Neuroscience from the University of Helsinki. Previously, I have studied neurotrophic factors in Pirvola and Saarma group. I joined Andressoo group in the end of 2021 because I wanted to use mice models to study how neurotrophic factors contribute to brain function in health and disease.

Peyman Choopanian

Ph.D. Student

I received my MSc in Bio-Mathematics from Tarbiat Modares University in 2021. In my thesis, I worked on machine learning approaches in protein structure analysis. I have a background in omics data analysis, and my expertise lies in using computational tools and techniques to analyze RNA-seq data, Proteomics, and metabolomics data. I am passionate about using data analysis to improve our understanding of complex biological systems.

Mehdi Mirzaie

Postdoctoral Researcher

I received my PhD from Beheshti University in Iran, where I studied applied mathematics with a focus on bioinformatics. I presented a novel method for recognizing protein folds based on game theory and knowledge-based potential functions.  My research as a bioinformatic scientist focuses on the opportunities at the intersection of computation and biology: specifically, I am interested in analyzing complex interactions within biological systems, developing new methods and algorithms, uncovering hidden patterns in data, providing hypotheses, and translating this information into biologically meaningful manner.

Tabea Schorling

Research Assistant

I obtained a BSc in Psychology from Leiden University in 2021. Throughout my studies, I have become more and more interested in the biology of the brain. I am currently finishing my master’s degree in clinical and cognitive neuroscience with a specialisation in drug development and neurohealth at Maastricht University. I joined the Andressoo lab in November 2022 because I am interested in the effects of neurotrophic factors on neurotransmitter systems and their implications for the treatment of brain-related disorders. For my thesis, I study the effects of GDNF on the serotonergic system in mice. 

Rashad Ismayilzada

Head of Commercialization

My alma mater is KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) where I received my bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. Later on, I attended Aalto University pursuing master’s degree in Bioinformatics and Digital Health with a minor in Synthetic Biology. I’ve had a Bio-IT background having worked in Finnish Meteorological Institute, VTT, several IT companies, etc. Since 2017 I’ve been hired to launch and run the largest health and life science hub in Nordics – Terkko Health Hub. Currently, in addition to above I’m heading the commercialization of a Research to Business project in Jaan-Olle’s group which received €900,000 funding from the University of Helsinki and Business Finland in 2022.



  • Nadine Schweizer, Ph.D., now National contact person for Horizon 2020 for life sciences and bioeconomy, Sweden
  • Mugen Terzioglu, Ph.D., now a senior researcher at the University of Tampere, Finland

Ph.D. students

  • Giorgio Turconi, Ph.D 2022, now an Application Specialist at Neurotar Oy
  • Lauriina Porokuokka, Ph.D. 2020, now a Pharmacist
  • Kärt Mätlik, Ph.D. 2018, now a Postdoctoral researcher at The Rockefeller University, New York, USA
  • Carolina Vilenius, changed her career
  • Jaakko Kopra, Ph.D. 2016, now a Medical Advisor at AbbVie, Finland
  • Anmol Kumar, Ph.D. 2014, now a Postdoctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Anu Planken, Ph.D. 2011 (co-supervisor)

MSc students

  • Laoise Casserly, now a Ph.D. student at the University of Edinburgh
  • Jenni Lahtinen, now a project coordinator at the University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Matilde Aquilino, now a Ph.D. student at the University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Ilaria Morassut, now a Ph.D. student at the University of Geneve, Switzerland
  • Mark Cowlishaw, now a Research Assistant at the University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Rana Mabrouk, now a Ph.D. student at the University of Eastern Finland
  • Dipabarna Bhattacharya, now a Ph.D. student at the University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Soophie Olfat, now a PhD student at Karolinska Institute, Sweden


Group members at the Karolinska Institute
  • Soophie Olfat, Ph.D. student
  • Isabel Runneberger, Ph.D. student
  • Anastasius Damdimopoulos, Bioinformatician (25%)

Topics: gene regulation, schizophrenia, bioinformatics analysis, mouse models, Alzheimer’s disease