Professor, PI

Harri Alenius is Research Director at the Medical Faculty (Medicum), University of Helsinki. He is also Professor in Molecular Toxicology at the Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet. He coordinates several national and international research projects in the field of immunology (KARA, MAARS) and systems toxicology (NANOSOLUTIONS).


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Docent and Lab Manager

Piia finished her PhD in molecular biology in the University of Jyväskylä at the end of 2004 and received a docentship in Biochemistry in 2016 from the University of Helsinki. During 2005-2007 she worked as postdoctoral fellow at Prof. Umetsu's laboratory in the Children’s Hospital, Harvard University, Boston. She is currently a university researcher, and a PI in a project funded by the Academy of Finland.

Her research is focused on the interaction of host, nanoparticles and the prevailing microbiome in the skin, gut and lungs. As nanomaterials are increasingly used in several everyday products, it is important to understand their immunological (e.g. inflammation), cellular and transcriptomic effects in vivo. In addition to the omic-based studies, the associated molecular mechanisms are also studied in vitro.

She is also very interested in atopic diseases, and participates in allergy-related projects, which characterize the sensitization, development or recovery phases of asthma, food allergies and atopic dermatitis.


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Nanna received her PhD in Animal Physiology in 1999, and docentship in Neurosciences and Physiology in 2015 from the University of Helsinki. She is currently a university researcher at the Department of Bacteriology and Immunology at Medicum, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland, and senior researcher at the Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. Her research has focused on T cell mediated skin inflammation, and in particular on how CD4+ and CD8+ T cells contribute to contact hypersensitivity (CHS) responses and on the role of T regulatory cells in experimental atopic dermatitis. Currently she is leading a project which aims at identifying biomarkers discriminating between human irritant and allergic contact dermatitis, and she is involved in multiple studies which explore host-microbe interplay in health and allergic disease and autoimmunity.


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Postdoctoral Researcher

Joe Ndika is a biomolecular scientist, with formal training in functional genetics. As a Phd student, his primary focus was the functional elucidation of the genes involved in the inborn errors of neurometabolic creatine deficiency syndrome. In 2014, he obtained a Phd in Neuroscience at Vrije University, University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

His current interests entail using hypothesis-driven multi-omics (integrated) approaches for resolving the molecular basis of disease within the context of allergy, immunology and adverse human exposures.


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PhD Student

Marit received her MSc in applied chemistry and biotechnology from Tallinn University of Technology in 2009. She is currently a doctoral student at the University of Helsinki, and her research is focused on investigating inflammatory effects of engineered nanomaterials in respiratory tract and on skin. In addition to exploring how these materials influence the healthy immune system, she is also studying engineered nanomaterial-induced effects in vulnerable groups such as asthmatics and individuals with atopic dermatitis.


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Umair's background is in both computational programming and biomolecular sciences. In the last 2 years, he has been involved in the optimization and implementation of data analysis pipelines for standalone or integrated omics analysis. His current project entails developing a pipeline for comprehensive analysis  of transcriptomic (miRNA, isoMir, mRNA and lncRNA) NGS data.



Research Assistant

The key to robust high-throughput next generation gene expression profiling, FACS analysis, etc., is excellent sample quality. As the group’s lab guru and pipette wizard, Terhi is in charge (testing, optimization and execution) of sample preparation from cell lines, animal models and human subjects.

Terhi has a Masters degree in Microbiology.

Masters student

Stina is currently working on her master’s thesis. Her thesis focuses on discovering the effect of nanomaterial exposure on the skin microbiota.