The Zoonotic Antimicrobial Resistance Group consists of the group leader, DVM, PhD Annamari Heikinheimo, four PhD researchers Venla Johansson, Viivi Heljanko, Ahmad Al-Mustapha, and Reeta Nurminen, three postdoctoral researchers BVM, MSc, PhD Bridgit Muasa, D.Sc. (Tech.), Kirsi-Maarit Lehto, and DVM, PhD Satu Olkkola and Master's student, B.Sc, Inka Ronkainen

The group is located on Viikki campus.

Annamari Heikinheimo

Olen eläinlääketieteen tohtori Annamari Heikinheimo, Zoonoottinen mikrobilääkeresistenssi -tutkimusryhmän johtaja. Olen erittäin kiinnostunut mikrobeista. Yritän ymmärtää bakteerien käyttäytymistä hyvin monitahoisessa ilmiössä ja vakavassa, globaalissa terveysuhassa; mikrobilääkeresistenssissä (antimicrobial resistance, AMR). Olen innostunut bakteerien genotyypeistä ja fenotyypeistä, sekä lisääntyneen mikrobilääkeresistenssin takana olevasta ihmisten käyttäytymisestä. Miten säilyttää mikrobilääkkeiden teho ja estää bakteerien kehittyminen resistenteiksi?

Vaikka rakastankin työtäni, on jotain, mitä rakastan vieläkin enemmän – perhettäni. He tekevät minut onnelliseksi ja kiireiseksi töiden ulkopuolella. Pidän myös ulkoilmassa urheilusta, partiosta ja tanssimisesta.

Annamari Heikinheimon Helsingin yliopiston TUHAT-profiili

Venla Johansson

I have graduated as DVM in 2019 and I worked as an official veterinarian for a while before starting my PhD project in the beginning of 2020. My professional scope of interest lies in global health challenges and epidemiology. In my PhD work I focus on the diffusion of multidrug-resistant bacteria between animals, humans and food at the household level.

As a researcher I find my work very meaningful. In my free time I relax by going outdoors and doing sports, such as open water swimming and road biking.

Viivi Heljanko

I graduated as a DVM in 2019. After my graduation, I worked as a slaughterhouse veterinarian and in small animal practice. During my veterinary studies, my main interest was in food hygiene and in public health issues. I have also been very interested in how infrastructure affects public health, especially in developing countries. I started working on my PhD in August 2021 and will focus on carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE).

Ahmad Al-Mustapha

I bagged my DVM in the year 2011. I obtained a Master's degree in Veterinary Public Health from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria in 2015. I was also an Erasmus+ Scholar who received the International MSc. In Infectious Diseases and One Health (IDOH) in 2020. My research interests are in infectious diseases epidemiology, the molecular basis of Antimicrobial resistance, and in one-health control of zoonoses.

Currently, I work on the WASTPAN project evaluating the utility of wastewater-based surveillance as an Early Warning tool for bacterial disease detection and control.

Reeta Nurminen

I graduated with a DVM degree in 2023 and started my doctoral studies in January 2024 at the University of Helsinki. My primary research interest lies in zoonotic diseases and global One Health. My PhD project focuses on investigating antimicrobial resistance and multidrug-resistant bacteria in varied dog populations worldwide. The project follows the One Health ideology, which emphasizes the interconnection between animal, human, and environmental health. 

Apart from research and work, I love spending my free time with my three dogs, engaging in various activities. I also enjoy playing sports and relaxing by reading books

Bridgit Muasa

Postdoc Bridgit Muasa is an Africa Early Career Mobility Program fellow from Kenya. She holds a BVM and an MSc in Veterinary Clinical Studies from the University of Nairobi, Kenya, and a PhD in Developmental Biology from the University of Edinburgh. She works at the National Veterinary Reference Laboratories in Kenya and is a fellow at The Center for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis (CEMA) at the University of Nairobi. Bridgit will work with the Zanres group on zoonotic AMR in shelter dogs in Kenya and on AMR policies in Africa.

Kirsi-Maarit Lehto

I hold a doctoral degree in environmental biotechnology and my main interest is in environmental hygiene and global health issues. In my thesis, I investigated the biodegradation and the effect of the UV irradiation on organic pollutants. I have also analyzed the links between infections and the linear growth of children in low-income settings. The main focus of my work was the association of poor water quality, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) with the inflammatory condition of the gut, environmental enteropathy (EE). In recent years, I was involved in generating a wastewater epidemic surveillance platform in Finland. In my current work, the aim is, among the other things, to develop the monitoring and analysis of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

I love my work as a researcher and the fact that I can learn new things all the time. I prefer to spend my free time in nature, moving together with my family, which includes my husband, three almost adult children and a goofy golden retriever.


Satu Olkkola

I have graduated as DVM in 2008 and ever since worked with antimicrobial resistant bacteria in Prof. emerita Marja-Liisa Hänninen’s research group until 2016 when I finished my PhD thesis on antimicrobial resistance mechanisms in campylobacter. I currently work as a senior researcher at the Finnish Food Authority (Ruokavirasto). My tasks include for example data collection and compiling of the annual report in the Finnish resistance surveillance programme FINRES-Vet, and involvement in various resistance-related research projects as well as basic upkeep of the laboratory routines for resistance-related duties.   

My professional interests include the epidemiology and mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance in bacteria and I feel fortunate to be able to work in an era that sees the transition from traditional phenotyping methods to modern technologies such as whole-genome sequencing.

When I am off work, I enjoy spending time with my two children that also keep me busy from immersing too deeply into the fascinating world of antimicrobial resistance.  

Inka Ronkainen

I’m studying in the Master’s programme of Microbiology and Microbial Biotechnology at the University of Helsinki and during my studies I’ve focused mainly on medical microbiology. Antimicrobial resistance is of particular interest to me from the One Health perspective and I’m always excited to work in the lab. I will first be working as an intern and then start my master’s thesis during the spring of 2024.  

In my free time, I enjoy different group training classes and I’m always working on my unfinished crochet projects.  

Zanres alumni - Ananda Tiwari