• Assistant Professor, Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden • Associate Professor, Translational Neuroscience, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Finland
Our laboratory’s goal is to develop novel therapeutic approaches by fine-tuning the expression of a gene selectively in cells in which the gene is normally expressed. We have generated the first proof-of-concept data showing that such an approach is technically feasible, can provide new information on gene function and may allow development of new treatment modes.
Specifically, we manipulate the 3’UTR of target genes which allows us to control endogenous gene expression in cells that naturally express the gene of interest.
At Karolinska Institutet our laboratory’s primary goal is to develop treatment for currently incurable neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Recently, our laboratory received funding from Center of Innovative Medicine (CIMED) with the focus on generating better mouse models and treatment modes for Alzheimer’s disease. More specifically, we aim to study how increase in endogenous beta-amyloid impacts Alzheimer’s disease etiology and investigate how upregulation of endogenous genes which control proteostasis, mitochondrial and neurotrophic functions impact AD etiology in mice. My laboratory at the University of Helsinki Faculty of Medicine, recently supported with ERC CoG and several other grants, focuses on similar objectives for Parkinson’s disease.
Our laboratory uses genetic engineering in mouse models accompanied with analysis at the molecular, cellular, tissue, behavioral and recently - electrophysiological level. For enhancing power of our genetic experiments we are, as a new opening, currently implementing alternative model organisms such as zebrafish.
As a serendipitous spin-off from our genetic experiments with neurotrophic factor GDNF signaling system we have also generated a new mouse model for long-segment Hirschsprung’s disease, which allows characterization and treatment discovery in postnatal mice. We have also generated a new mouse mouse model for Congenital Anomalies of the Kidney and Urinary Tract (CAKUT) which we currently analyze in collaboration with Dr Satu Kuure’s group at the University of Helsinki.
98h of lecturing experience since 2007 at the University of Helsinki, Finland and at Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia.
• 2009 Docent (Adj. Prof.) of Genetics, University of Helsinki (UH), Finland • 2004 PhD, Erasmus Medical Center, Department of Cell Biology and Genetics, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, Prof Jan H.J. Hoeijmakers • 1991-1998 Undergraduate studies of Biology, University of Tartu, Estonia
• Sabbatical year 03.2017 – 12.2017 - Visiting Associate Professor in Neurobiology at the Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, New York, USA. Host: Prof David Sulzer • 09.2016-08.2017 - Associate Professor, Cell and Tissue Engineering, University of Tampere, Finland • 2010 – 2017 Principal Investigator, Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki, Finland • 2010-2015 Academy of Finland Research Fellow (PI) at the Institute of Biotechnology (BI), University of Helsinki (UH), Finland • 2008-2010 Senior Postdoctoral Associate (Mart Saarma’s group) at the BI, UH, Finland • 2005-2008 Academy of Finland Post-doctoral Research Fellow (Mart Saarma’s group), at the BI, UH, Finland • 2004-2005 Post-doctoral researcher at Prof Jan Hoeijmakers laboratory, Erasmus Medical Center, Department of Cell Biology and Genetics, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands • 1999-2004 PhD studies at Prof Jan Hoeijmakers laboratory, Erasmus Medical Center, Department of Cell Biology and Genetics, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands • 1993-1999 Junior scientist in Prof Toivo Maimets laboratory at the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Tartu, Estonia
Academic honours, awards and prizes
• 2017-2022 Nominee of European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant • 2017-2022 Nominee of Center of Innovative Medicine Young Investigator Grant at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm • 2010-2015 Academy of Finland Research Fellow – the most prestigious start-up package for early and mid-stage scientists in Finland • 2005-2008 Academy of Finland post-doctoral Fellow – the most prestigious post-doctoral grant in Finland