The Viral Zoonosis research group values collaboration and has a number of important affiliates.
Tarja Sironen

PhD, Associate Professor of emerging infectious diseases

I am part of Helsinki One Health network and work both at the Department of Virology, Faculty of Medicine and the Department of Veterinary Biosciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. I have experience in studying emerging infectious diseases, viral zoonosis, virus diagnostics and phylogenetics. Find out more through my Orchid account.

My research focuses on the discovery of novel viruses, disease ecology and molecular epidemiology of rodent- and bat-borne viruses. I also lead projects on detection, diagnostics and prevention of veterinary infectious diseases.

I teach and supervise students at both faculties. I also train personnel for work in BSL3-laboratory (EE-building, Viikki campus), and coordinate the use of Illumina MiSeq at our laboratory in the Meilahti campus.

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Jussi Hepojoki

PhD, Docent in virology, Academy of Finland research fellow

I am a principal investigator at the Meilahti campus and Oberassistent at the University of Zürich (Vetsuisse faculty, Institute of Veterinary Pathology) with main research focus is on molecular virology and pathogenesis of zoonotic viruses. After receiving PhD in 2012 (Glycoprotein interactions in the assembly of hantaviruses) I have been particularly active in finding novel viruses from snakes, with main focus on arenaviruses. I am also the scientific lead of “BIBD Group” (Boid inclusion body disease) operating at both University of Helsinki and University of Zürich. We as the BIBD group have so far contributed by the reshaping the arenavirus taxonomy (taxonomic proposals on establishing three novel genera: Mammarenavirus, Reptarenavirus and Hartmanivirus in the family Arenaviridae) and by several publications on the pathogenesis of reparenaviruses in snakes.

Currently, I am (co-)supervising 4 PhD projects at the University of Helsinki, and a few Dr. Med Vet. projects at the University of Zürich, Switzerland. In addition to molecular virology, my research interests include adaptive immune response and development of novel serodiagnostic tools.

ResearcherID: W-4667-2017; OrcidID: 0000-0001-5699-214X

Tomas Strandin

PhD, Docent in virology, Academy of Finland research fellow

My research aims at characterizing host responses towards hantavirus infections. Hantaviruses cause immune-mediated hemorrhagic fevers in humans, to which no vaccine or specific treatment is currently available, whereas in rodent hosts the infection is asymptomatic and persistent. In order to develop efficient viral countermeasures in the future, a more detailed understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms leading to hantavirus pathogenesis and/or persistence is of prime importance.

My specific research questions include the virus-induced regulation of human and rodent immune cells both in the host organism and in in vitro. I’m also interested in the hemostatic regulation by hantavirus infection in humans.

Kristian Forbes

PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Arkansas

I’m an infectious disease ecologist, and Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Arkansas. I combine field, laboratory and statistical methods to address fundamental questions in pathogen susceptibility and transmission within and among wildlife populations. I’m especially interested in zoonotic viruses, and the effects of anthropogenic environmental modifications, such as food provisioning and land-use changes, on wildlife disease processes. I primarily work with rodents and bats, and have projects based in Finland, Kenya and the United States.

For more information, please see my website

Anne Jääskeläinen

PhD, Docent in virology, hospital microbiologist

My research interests are mostly related to clinical virology, and especially I work with different human flaviviruses, for example Zika and dengue viruses, but also chikungunyaviruses, and viral hemorrhagic viruses , like CCHFV, filo- (ZEBOV, MARV, BDBV, Sudan ebolavirus) and arenaviruses (LCMV and Lassa), and diagnosis of these infections. I develop and validate different diagnostic methods but also screen and search different human and animal pathogens (emerging infections). At the moment I have one PhD student working mostly with Ljungan virus and LCMV projects. 

Links to my previous studies can be found through the TUHAT system or

Maciej Grzybek

PhD, DSc, associate professor, Medical University of Gdansk, Poland

I am a parasitologist holding the associate professor position at the Institute of Maritime and Tropical Medicine of the Medical University of Gdansk in Poland. I specialize in parasitology and rodent-borne diseases. My interests include parasite ecology, host-pathogen interactions and emerging infectious diseases. I lead national and international research projects focusing on biodiversity, intrinsic and extrinsic factors influencing parasite prevalence in rodents and searching for novel vectors and reservoirs for pathogens. I am a member of the World Health Organisation NTD-STAG Working Group on Monitoring, Evaluation and Research.

Anu Jääskeläinen

PhD, specializing microbiologist

I did my PhD on diagnostics of acute tick-borne encephalitis and molecular epidemiology of tick-borne encephalitis virus at the viral zoonosis research group in 2012. My other research interests include other tick-borne pathogens and Ixodes spp. ticks, e.g. pathogen-tick-host ecology. Since 2016 I have worked at the diagnostic laboratory of the Helsinki University Hospital, HUSLAB, at the division of Clinical Microbiology, where I am doing my specialization to become a hospital microbiologist.

Links to my previous studies can be found through through the TUHAT system.

Paula M. Kinnunen

DVM, PhD, Docent in zoonotic microbiology

I completed my specialization studies in infectious animal diseases 2008 and defended my PhD thesis on Borna and orthopoxviruses in 2011. Earlier that year, I had started as Senior Researcher at the Centre for Biothreat Preparedness. I proceeded to the Research Director of the Centre for Military Medicine, and further to the J5 Plans & Policy Department of the Finnish Defence Command. Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira (currently Ruokavirasto) hired me as the Director of Animal Health and Welfare in 2015, where I changed to Research Director in 2018. From May 2019 on, I work as the Technical Manager at the MSD Animal Health. I gained the adjunct professorship of zoonotic microbiology in 2017 and continue leisure-time research activities related to zoonoses. In addition to vector-borne zoonoses, I´m interested in zoonoses related to veterinary public and occupational health.

Satu Kurkela

MD, MPH, PhD, Docent in medical microbiology

I completed my PhD on Sindbis virus and Pogosta disease in the Viral Zoonoses Group in 2007 and subsequently undertook EUPHEM fellowship at the Health Protection Agency in London. I presently work as a Chief Specialist for Virology and Immunology at the Helsinki University Hospital Laboratory and continue to collaborate with the Viral Zoonoses Group. My particular research interests focus on diagnosis, pathogenesis and epidemiology of vector-borne infections.

Heli Nordgren
Alexander Plyusnin

PhD, University Lecturer

I am an expert in genetics and evolution of emerging viruses, mostly hantaviruses, with 25 years of experience and more than 160 publications in international per-reviewed journals such as The Lancet, EBBO Journal, PNAS USA, JVirology, JGenVirology etc. Ten PhD students had completed their degree under my supervision. In 2000-2008 I have been working also as the guest Professor in virology (doing both teaching and research) at the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm. From 2011 I am the Guest Professor in Virus evolution (hon.) at China CDC, Beijing.

From 1997 I am the member, and in 2006-2012 the Chair, of the Bunyaviridae/Bunyavirinae Study Group of the International Committee for Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) responsible e.g. for the Group’s chapter in the 12th ICTV Report, 2012.   

Antti Vaheri

MD, PhD, Professor emeritus of virology

Antti Vaheri is (co)discoverer of five rodent-borne hantaviruses (Puumala, Tula, Topografov, Saaremaa, Kurkino) and three new insectivore-borne hantaviruses isolated in Finland. His current research involves hantavirus infections, and other viral zoonoses (new arenaviruses, new hantaviruses, tick-borne encephalitis virus and other flaviviruses, alphaviruses, and Borna disease virus in rodents). The work on zoonotic viruses extends from molecular epidemiology and diagnostics to immunology and pathogenesis. In viral diagnostics he has worked e.g. on rapid 5-min immunochromatographic IgM-antibody assays and microarrays for detection of viral RNA/DNA and antibodies. In the past AV also discovered the first practical method for transfection (use of DEAE-dextran, originally applied for infectivity of viral RNA and DNA) and worked on rubella and influenza viruses, human endogenous retroviruses and HIV, and on the role of human papillomaviruses in benign and malignant human tumors. - In addition, he has numerous publications in the fields of cell/cancer biology (e.g. he is the codiscoverer of prototypes of two classes of proteins: fibronectin and ezrin, and has had extensive studies on plasminogen activation. In addition to hantavirus infections he has current collaborative studies on the role of tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) in CNS, and on pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia and narcolepsy.

Antti Vaheri has 670 original publications in English in refereed journals, 159 review articles in English and 142 articles in Finnish or Swedish. He is one of the most cited researchers in Finland, has a Hirsch index 98, and 97 “hot” publications (cited >100 times). He has supervised 58 doctoral theses. He is EMBO member and has received several prizes (Äyräpää Prize, Medix Award for Best Biosciences Publication in 1996 from Finland, Folke Nordbring Award on Infectious Diseases, Niilo Voipio Award for Outstanding Cancer Research, Societas Scientiarum Fennica Award, Eric K. Fernström Large Nordic Prize, Academia Scientarum Fennica Prize).