RNAcious team


We the RNAciers, the driving force who constantly look for unprecedented tRNA modifications focusing on the early infection stages in the host-pathogen interactions.

The RNAcious Laboratory

Molecular and Integrative Biosciences Research Programme                                                                      
Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Biocenter 1 (Viikinkaari 9 B) , Room 6232
P.O. Box 56
00014 University of Helsinki


Phone:  +358 408385634

Email:    pavlina.gregorova(at)


Pavlina is involved in the project focusing on tRNA modifications and their effect(s) manifested during early stage of disease using cancer cell lines model.

Pavlina finished her both degrees (BSc., MSc.) in Biochemistry at Masaryk University (Czech Republic).



Email:   milla.halme(at)

Milla is a newly graduated M.Sc currently working in RNAcious laboratory as a technical assistant. Her project explores the role of tRNA modifications in colorectal cancer metastasis. 



Email:    minna-maria.heinonen(at)

Minna is an M.Sc graduate working as a technical assistant in the RNAcious lab. She is studying RNA biology during the phage host interaction.


Phone:   +358 2941 59815
Email:    salla.kalaniemi(at)

Salla is involved in several projects to offer extra hands in the lab experiments.

Salla has finished her B.Sc. at Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences and her M.Sc. at the University of Iceland. She has worked in different laboratories at the University of Helsinki since 2013.

In her free time Salla likes to do handcrafts and practice yoga.


Email:    mirka.lampi(at)

Mirka focuses on studying the effects that tRNA modifications have on the translation efficacy in yeast-derived cell-free system. She also works with bacteriophage infection models to explore the expression of viral tRNA genes.

Mirka has her background in microbiology and more specifically in molecular virology. She obtained her M.Sc degree in 2015 from the Molecular Virology Research Program, University of Helsinki. Within her PhD research, she developed a novel virus purification method applicable for viruses with varying biochemical and –physical properties. She defended her thesis “Asymmetrical flow field-flow fractionation in virus purification” in 2019 (University of Helsinki). As a postdoc In RNAcious laboratory, Mirka is excited to explore and optimize the protein production in cell-free system. She also looks forward to study, how viruses hijack the translation control from the host cell.

The life outside the laboratory consists of casual everyday things with family and friends, lots of sports, reading and travelling.


Email:    jenni.pedor(at)

Jenni’s work aims are to enhance the efficiency of heterologous protein production in cell-free translation system by optimizing tRNA modificome.

She has obtained her M.Sc. degree in Gene Technology from the University of Tartu (Estonia) and after three months of training at Thermo Fisher Scientific Baltics (Vilnius, Lithuania) joined the RNAcious lab. Jenni is excited to investigate the translational machinery and to use new high-throughput RNA technologies to push the limits of heterologous protein production.

In her free time, Jenni likes to read, travel and hike. She also enjoys cooking and dancing.


Email:    muhammad.qasim(at)


Suleman works on dissecting the translational effects of post-transcriptional RNA modifications in vitro using a simplified cell-free translation system.

Suleman finished his M.Sc degree from University of Helsinki in Molecular Biotechnology. He later joined RNAcious lab in the summers of 2019 and started working on stress induced modifications in the tRNA of shewanella bacteria. He is passionate about RNA biology, and epigenetic modifications on RNA molecule. 

In his spare time, he likes to play football, badminton and enjoys spending his holidays in a cottage near by a lake. 



Group Leader
University Lecturer
Novo Nordisk Foundation Emerging Investigator

Phone: +358-2941-59533
Email:   peter.sarin(at)

University of Helsinki Research Portal

My scientific journey started in 2003 with a passion for viruses, defending my M.Sc. thesis (in 2005) on the biochemical characterisation of the SARS coronavirus RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. Supervised by Dr. Minna Poranen and Prof. Dennis Bamford (Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence for Virus Research 2006-2011, UH), I explored the molecular mechanisms of the phage phi6 RNA polymerase and its utilization in biotechnological applications, obtaining my Ph.D. degree in 2011. As a postdoctoral researcher, I expanded my biochemical research into other viral polymerases, studied the membrane assembly phase of phage phi6, and developed RNA production and purification methods.

Upon receiving the Sigrid Jusélius Postdoc Fellowship (2012-2014), I entered the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine (Münster, Germany) to study the evolutionary role of tRNA modifications in response to cellular stress factors. Mentored by Dr. Sebastian Leidel (Max Planck Research Group for RNA Biology), I co-developed a nano-LC mass spectrometry technique that is suitable for ribonucleoside analysis and allows accurate determination of changes in tRNA modification levels. Using this approach I revealed a temperature-dependent thiolation deficit in yeast and, studying several closely related yeast strains, showed that environmental adaptation strongly influences cellular stress responses and tRNA modification adaptation.

Having obtained the Academy of Finland Research Fellow 2016-2021 funding and becoming Principal Investigator (Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, UH), I established the RNAcious laboratory in September 2016. My current research is supported by the Novo Nordisk Foundation (Emerging Investigator in Biotechnology-based synthesis & production 2019-2024), the Sigrid Jusélius Foundation (Young Group Leader grant 2017-2022), and the University of Helsinki. I was appointed Docent in Molecular Biology by the University of Helsinki in 2014.

I am guest editor and external reviewer for several scientific journals, and grant reviewer for three international funding agencies. In 2018, I was appointed as the National Delegate for the Federation of European Microbiological Societies (FEMS) and treasurer for the Finnish Learned Society for Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Microbiology. I am a full member of the RNA Society (2008-) and the American Society for Virology (2006-).

Taru-Marja Mäkinen
Master's degree student in Microbiology and Microbial Biotechnology, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

Matea Radešić
Erasmus+ intern, Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Giovanna Dashi
FIMM-EMBL & DSHealth PhD rotation student, University of Helsinki

Hannu Hotti, D.Sc., Postdoctoral Researcher
Hannu's project focused on exploring the impact of tRNA modification on callus cell development.

Ulrike Abendroth, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Researcher
Ulrike's project focused on determining the minimal component set required for translation.

Biplu Prajapati
Research Assistant, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

Niklas Ahlblad
Master's degree student in Genetics and Molecular Biosciences, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

Ronja Haikarainen
BSc student at the Maastricht Science Programme, Maastricht University, The Netherlands

Silvija Milosavljevic
Master's degree student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

Biplu Prajapati
Master's degree student in Genetics and Molecular Biosciences, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

Jasmin Javanmardi
Erasmus+ exchange student, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany

Aurora Díaz Pérez
Erasmus+ exchange student, Polytechnic University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain

Stavrula Gouzounis, M.Sc., Research Assistant
Wulla participated in a joint project with the Saarikangas lab that aims to understand how translational fidelity changes as cells age, and how this impacts to the emergence of aging phenotypes in yeast.

Milla Halme
Master's degree student in Molecular Biosciences at Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

Cha San Koh, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Researcher
Cha San's project focused on tRNA modifications and their effect(s) manifested during early viral infection cycles using various host-pathogen models.

Ricarda Riegger, B.Sc.
Erasmus+ intern, Molecular Biosciences, Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Mouna Chaqroun
Research technician intern from Stadin ammatti- ja aikuisopisto, Helsinki, Finland

Bela Barakhoyeva
Research technician intern, Stadin ammatti- ja aikuisopisto, Helsinki, Finland

Berta Garrido Zabala
Erasmus Exchange student, Undergraduate at Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain

Basma Ragab
Undergraduate student, Master's Degree Programme in Biotechnology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

José Luis Delgado Romo
Undergraduate student, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Mexico City, Mexico

Rajita Rayamajhi Thapa
M.Sc., Summer internship student, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

Duolong Zhu
Ph.D. Candidate, Visiting Scientist, Nankai University, Tianjin, China



Interested in working on groundbreaking research projects in an inspiring environment? We encourage talented students that seek exciting thesis projects or internships, as well as committed postdoctoral fellows (eligible for national and/or international funding) to contact us. For further information, please send an email to Peter Sarin together with a full CV and contact details of at least two references.