The research team i amazing! The team members are more than dedicated to their individual tasks and the matters at hand. 

"We have taken upon us to show something that a lot of people, including a lot of our own colleagues, do not really believe in. This requires curiosity, truth seeking, passion and civil courage from my researchers and I love them every day for doing it. "  - Anna Hielm-Björkman, Leader of DogRisk research group

Principal investigator, DVM, PhD, docent, CVA (IVAS)


Anna is the leader of the DogRisk reseaerch group. She works as a senior researcher, PI (principal investigator) and teacher at the department on Equine and Small Animal Medicine at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Helsinki in Finland. 80% of her time goes to research and she works with patients once a week. A lot of her time goes to securing funding for her researchers and the administration of her research group. Her main areas of interest are why chronic diseases in dogs and humans occur, how the disease process proceeds and the role of nutrition in these both. She also has a strong background in chronic pain management, acupuncture, other "non-conventional" therapies, un-heated dog foods (also called raw, fresh or BARF), and nutraceuticals.

PhD (Animal science), academic agronomist, DVM student 

Nutrition Clinic for Dogs and Cats


Johanna has been working in DogRisk group since 2008, and has been working in two clinical trials on osteoarthritis in dogs and one study of chronic urinary tract infections in dogs. In her PhD study she studied Canine atopic dermatitis in Staffordshire bull terriers, and she defended her dissertation in 2018. In addition, she started her veterinary studies in 2017. Her areas of interest are genetics, nutrition, nutrigenomics, and metabolomics.

PhD, microbial ecologist.


I'm working with microbiomes, focusing on associations between dogs' microbiota (skin and gut) and dietary factors, lifestyle as well as environment and their role in allergy.

Master’s Student, Canine Metabolomics / Metabonomics


In the DogRisk atopy project Robin uses statistical and biochemical analysis of metabolomic data in order to study how dietary intake associate with disease risks in dogs. Robin began his studies at the University of Helsinki in Fall 2012, majoring in organic chemistry and minoring in molecular biology. Prior to joining the DogRisk group Robin has participated as a researcher in several other research groups, including a year studying the structures of protein complexes responsible for mediating tick-borne diseases in humans under Prof. Adrian Goldman and Dr. Taru Meri.

Stella M. Bar­rouin-Melo

International co-worker, nutrition related immunology. 

Professor, DVM, PhD

Professor Stella Barrouin is a veterinarian, lecturer and researcher in the fields of small animal internal medicine and immunology at the School of Veterinary Medicine of the Federal University of Bahia, Brazil. She participates in nutrition and metabolomic studies in the DogRisk project as affiliated with this research group since September 2013, when she started her postdoc research at the University of Helsinki, which was concluded in August 2014. The correlation between nutrition and immuno-inflammatory aspects of canine diseases, particularly the interactions between food, microbiota, intestinal local immunology and systemic immune responses have been our main subjects of study in collaboration. Among our common objectives is to develop a multicenter study comparing data from different environmental conditions such as the tropical South America and temperate Nordic Europe.

International co-worker, nutrition related genetics and hematology.

Post Doc researcher, DVM. PhD

Sara uses integrative genomics for the identification of disease, disease-causing mutations or variations, and immune response to disease (e.g. resistance), using domestic animals as natural models of disease. She has been working as a postdoc already before both in the USA and in Cordoba, Spain. She started being part of DogRisk during her stay in Finland in 2015, and she is still writing articles together with the group, mainly related with the nutrigenomic and nutri-haematological aspects of the diseases that the group is looking at.

Siru Salin MSc Animal Nutrition (soon to be PhD), academic agronomist. 

Joined the group in September 2018. As an animal nutritionist, her expertise lies in obesity research (did Ph.D. studies on insulin resistance and energy over-consumption). Having lived with and loved dogs her whole life, she is passionate about studying the associations between nutrition and prevalence of common diseases in pet dogs. Her ultimate goal is to identify novel nutritional, genetic and environmental factors involved in obesity susceptibility in dogs. 

Manal Hemida 

PhD (Animal Nutrition), Veterinarian, Lecturer

Manal has newly joined the DogRisk group a few months ago and has been working in project preparation about canine diabetes. In her master study, she studied rabbit nutrition while her PhD was on poultry nutrition.  Her areas of interest are animal nutrition and related risk factors. 

Senior scent detection dog trainer.

During his police K9-career of over 40 years Hormila worked for example at The Police Dog 
Training Centre as a teacher for K9 Scent Detection Unit training, tracking, search, ID-detection and Explosive and Arson and Cadaver detection dogs, and also served in operational duties with his own dogs. Ilkka has worked in co-operation with the Search & Rescue dog handlers for decades and has been teaching ID- and SAR-search also for common dog owners. Hormila is an internationally respected lecturer and trainer among the Officials and the SAR-dog handlers, and works all over Europe and also in Asia.

Cancer smelling dog project coordinator.

CEO of Suomen hajuerottelu - WiseNose Ry DogRisk research group

Cancer Detection Dog Study - Dog trainer, study co-ordinator

Susanna has been involved in the DogRisk group since 2015 and was the one starting the Cancer Sniffing Dog Project, as well as starting the WiseNose non-profit organization. She takes care of the Dog Lab were the dogs are trained and the handling and freezing of the urine and cancer samples. She is also the main recruiter of dogs and handles our co-operation with the military, border security, police and international contacts. Susanna's main goal together with us, is to get a Nobel price for her scent detection dog Kössi!

Dog trainer

Ville is working at Wise Nose and with DogRisk as a dog trainer and he is our "multi-tool” person. Ville says the most interesting part of developing the cancer detection dogs' teaching process, is the incredibly fascinating world of their scent. Ville has two dogs of his own; one working mold dog "Asta", which is also in training to detect cancer and the other dog is "Ami", which is in training to be a working mold dog. Ville´s main goal in dog scent training is to train the dogs to be exact and to work in the right mood. Training good working dogs is a full, 24/7, time job.

PhD Biology/Animal Physiology

Prior to joining the DogRisk group, Kristiina’s research interests have been antioxidant defence, oxidative stress, transcriptomics, proteomics and transcriptional regulation. She is interested in promoting health and wellbeing of dogs through research related to the effects of nutrition and environment on canine gene expression, transcriptional regulation, metabolomics, immune defence, microbiota and physiology.

Sarah Rosendahl, DVM, PhD student

Sarah joined the DogRisk group in 2019. She is a veterinarian doing her PhD on minerals, trace elements and toxic metals in dogs. She studies the association of these elements with chronic diseases, diet, environment, lifestyle and behavior. She uses both blood and hair mineral analysis in her research. 

Communications and social media