People

The people and teams behind our research.

Professor

Thomas Helleday

Thomas Helleday is Swedish and obtained his first degree in molecular biology at Stockholm University (1995). Alongside these studies, he took a degree in Business Administration and Economics at the same university (1996). In 1999, he was awarded a Ph.D. from Stockholm University for his studies on homologous recombination in mammalian cells.

After a short post-doctoral research period with Mark Meuth at the Institute for Cancer Research, Sheffield, UK, he obtained a lectureship at the same institute and set up his own group, with an interest in homologous recombination at replication forks in mammalian cells. At the same time, he maintained grants and a position at Stockholm University, allowing his group to continue research at the Department of Genetics, Microbiology, and Toxicology.

Thomas Helleday became a professor at both University of Sheffield and Stockholm University in 2006, prior to being recruited as MRC Professor of Cancer Therapeutics at the Gray Institute for Radiation Oncology and Biology at the University of Oxford, Currently, Thomas Helleday is the Torsten and Ragnar Söderberg Professor of Translational Medicine and Chemical Biology at Science for Life Laboratory, Department of Oncology and Pathology, at the Karolinska Institutet Science Park in Stockholm. He has won numerous prestigious prizes including the ERC Advanced Grant Award twice in 2010 and 2016, Cancer researcher of the year 2016 by the Swedish Cancer Society, Erik K Fernström Prize in Medicine 2014, Göran Gustafsson Prize in Medicine 2013, Skandia’s Lennart Levi Prize at Karolinska Institutet 2012. In the summer of 2018, he simultaneously joined Sheffield University at the Department of Oncology and Metabolism for the establishment of a new cancer research institute. The current focus in the Helleday laboratories is understanding and exploiting altered nucleotide metabolism and DNA repair at replication forks for novel anti-cancer and inflammation therapies.

Awards and Prices:

Carcinogenesis Young Investigator Award 2010, the Swiss Bridge Award 2008 by the Swiss Cancer League and the International Union Against Cancer (UICC), the Svedberg Award 2008 by SFBM and Swedish National Committee for Molecular Biosciences, the European Association for Cancer Research Young Cancer Researchers Award 2007, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Hilda and Alfred Eriksson’s prize 2007 for an outstanding research contribution in relief of diseases in man or animal, British Association for Cancer Research (BACR) – AstraZeneca Young Scientist Frank Rose Award 2006, the Eppendorf-Nature Young European Investigator Award 2005 for outstanding contribution within the field of biomedical science and the European Environmental Mutagen Society (EEMS) Young Scientist Award 2005.

Core Team

Thomas Helleday

Professor

Mari Kullman Magnusson

Lab Manager

Education
Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry, Uppsala University
Who am I?
I enjoy traveling, hiking, gardening, reading books, and most of all spending time with family and friends!

Athina Pliakou

Research Coordinator

Education
2001-2006 Bachelor’s degree, Department of International & European Economic Studies, Athens University of Economics and Business
2015-2017 Master of Medical Science in Public Health with a Major in Medical Management, Health Economics, and Policy, Karolinska Institutet
Who am I?
Taekwondo enthusiast 

Team Biochemistry and In Vitro pharmacology

Ann-Sofie Jemth

Principal Researcher, Team & Project leader

Education
1996 Master of Science Biochemistry, Uppsala University, Sweden
2002 Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Uppsala University, Sweden
Experience
2018 – present
Team leader, project leader, and Principal Researcher at the Department of Oncology and Pathology, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, Laboratory of Professor Thomas Helleday
2012 – 2017
Team leader and Researcher at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, Laboratory of Professor Thomas Helleday
2005 – 2012
Assistant Professor at the Department of Genetics Microbiology and Toxicology, Stockholm University, Sweden, Laboratory of Professor Thomas Helleday
2006 – 2010
Director of the Graduate Research School in Gene Expression at Stockholm University 20 %
2002 – 2004
Post-Doctoral Research Associate at the Medical Research Council Laboratory Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK, Laboratory of Professor Philipp Holliger
1997 – 2001
Laboratory teacher 20 % at the Department of Biochemistry, Uppsala University
Research Interest and Expertise
Enzyme assay development, enzyme kinetics, drug discovery, protein expression and purification, structural biology, understanding of enzyme function
Who am I?
I like spending time in nature, walking, running, skiing or orienteering. I like singing and spending time with my family, especially in our summer house in Dalarna.
Announcement
If would you like to perform a Master of a science project in our lab within the area of biochemistry and drug discovery please contact me using annsofie.jemth@scilifelab.se.

Ana Slipicevic

Project leader

Education

Research interest

Who am I?

Niklas Schultz

Senior Scientist, biologist

Education

Research Interest

Who am I?

Carina Norström

Research Engineer

Research Interest
Assay development, screening and target validation.

Ingrid Almlöf

Research Engineer

Education:
1978 – 1981 Bachelor of Science in Biology, University of Uppsala
1985 – 2006 Courses in Pharmacology; Endocrinology; Autoimmunity, Molecular Biology, Enzymology, Cell signaling
Professional experience:
1981 – 1989 Research Engineer, Pharmacia Diagnostics
1990 – 2001 Research Engineer, Dep. of Pharmacology, Pharmacia&Upjohn
2002 – 2005 Research Engineer, Receptor Pharmacology, Biovitrum
2006 – 2012 Research Scientist, Assay Development and Screening; iNovacia AB
2013 – present Research Engineer, Division of Translational Medicine and Chemical Biology, MBB, Karolinska Institutet, SciLifeLab
Research Interest
Assay development and screening, biochemical and cell-based assays, target validation, GPCR assays
Who am I? 
In my free time, I like outdoor activities and cooking.

Elisee Wiita

Research Engineer

Experience
1989 – 2001 Research Scientist, Karo Bio AB
2002 – 2006 Laboratory Engineer, Biovitrum AB
2006 – 2010 Research Scientist, iNovacia AB
2010 – 2013 Research Scientist, Kancera AB
2013 – present in vitro pharmacologist at Helleday Lab, SciLifeLab, Department of Oncology and Pathology
Education
1985 – 1987 University degree in human biology, Uppsala University
1987 – 1988 Basic course in chemistry, Stockholm’s University
1989 Degree in Molecular Biology, Stockholm’s University
Research activities
Assay development, screening and target development
GPCR, biochemical, biophysical and cell-based assays
Who am I?
I enjoy outdoor activities like playing golf in the summer and cross country or downhill skiing in the winter. I push myself every week to spend some time at the gym or go for a run.
At home I like to read, listen to podcasts, watch series or enjoy a nice dinner and a movie. I love travelling or just spending time with my friends, family and cats.

Viktoriia Tsuber

Senior Researcher

Education

Research Interest

Who am I?

Petra Marttila

Ph.D. student

Education
2013 – 2016 BSc in Molecular Biology, Uppsala University
2016 – 2019 MSc in Cell and Molecular Biology, Uppsala University
2017 – 2018 MSc in Biochemistry, Uppsala University
Since 2020 – Ph.D. Student, Karolinska Institutet
Research Interest
Cell biology, Molecular biology, Cancer metabolism, DNA damage signaling, Drug discovery
Who am I?
I’m a cat enthusiast on my journey to become a crazy cat lady one day. In my spare time, I like to play video games like Skyrim, Witcher 3, and Cyberpunk 2077. When not holding a pipette or a PS4 controller, I like to train in the outdoor gym, aiming to become a master in burpees.

Christina Chalkiadaki

Research Assistant

Education
2019 BSc in Biology, University of Crete, Greece
2022 MSc in Cell and Molecular Biology, Uppsala University, Sweden
Research Interest
Cancer research, molecular biology, drug discovery
Who am I?
In my free time, I enjoy walking in nature, listening to music and watching tennis

Crystal Farhat

Master’s student

Education
2019 BSc in Life Sciences with emphasis on Molecular Biology, Umeå University, Sweden
2021 – Present MSc Immunology and Microbiology, Uppsala University, Sweden
Research Interest
Cell biology, Cancer research, DNA repair, Microbiology, Immunology
Who am I?
I’m an avid reader and book collector. When not studying or working I’m often found with a book in hand. I’m on a mission to build my own small library. Apart from reading, I enjoy finding new cafés or restaurants around Stockholm and trying them out with my friends. 

Amber Hondema

Master’s student 

Education
2021 – 2023 MSc in Oncology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands
2018 – 2021 BSc in Biomedical Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Research Interest
Oncology, Cell biology, Molecular biology, DNA damage response, DNA repair
Who am I?
I enjoy spending my free time with friends exploring the city. You can find me in local bookstores, cafés, or museums, where my mission is to find the best book and tea in town. I also enjoy playing volleyball and going on long hikes.

 

Lilian Frank

BSc student

Education
2020 – Present Biomedicine BSc in Karolinska Institutet
Research Interest
Molecular biology and drug discovery 
Who am I?
In my free time, I enjoy walking in silent places, learning about random things, and thinking.

 

Team In vivo pharmacology

Kumar Sanjiv

Team leader 

Education
1997 – 2003 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), Veterinary College, KVAFS University, Bangalore Karnataka India
2004 – 2006 Masters in Veterinary Microbiology (M.V.Sc), College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Rajasthan Agriculture University, Bikaner Rajasthan, India.
2006 – 2011 Ph.D. in Molecular Medicine, Molecular Medicine (TIGP) Taiwan International Graduate Program- A joint international program offered by, the Institute of Biomedical Sciences (IBMS) Academia Sinica and Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan (ROC)
Experience
2011 – 2012 Postdoc at IBMS Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan
2012 – Postdoc in Prof Thomas Helleday’s lab at Science for Life lab; Division of Translational Medicine, MBB Karolinska Medical Institute, Stockholm, Sweden

Therese Pham

Research Engineer

Education
1985 B.Sc., in Biology. Wesleyan University, Illinois, USA
1989 M.Sc., in Behavior Analysis & Therapy. Southern Illinois University, USA
2001 Ph.D., Behavioural Neuroscience. Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
Experience
2012 – present Research engineer, Helleday Laboratory, Science for Life Laboratory, Karolinska Institutet
2007 – 2011 Senior researcher, Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, Karolinska Institutet
2005 – 2006 Postdoctoral position at Dept. of Neurobiology Care Sciences & Society, Karolinska Institutet
2002 – 2004 Postdoctoral position at Dept. of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet

Sandra Ekstedt

Project leader

Education
2013 M.Sc., biomedicine, Linnaeus University, Kalmar, Sweden
2019 Ph.D., Neutrophil subsets in airway inflammation and hyperreactivity, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden

Research Interest
Inflammation and immunology, Molecular biology, FACS, and the neutrophils

Who am I?
In my free time, I like kayaking, sweating in the gym but also relaxing on the couch, and eating salt licorice in front of a TV series with many episodes.

Emilio Guillén Mancina

Postdoctoral Researcher

Education
2014 Degree in Pharmacy, University of Seville, Spain
2020 Ph.D. in oncological pharmacology, University of Seville, Spain
2020 – 2021 Postdoctoral researcher, University of Seville, Spain
Research Interest
Cancer, pharmacology, immuno-oncology, metabolic diseases, cell biology
Who am I?
I like exploring and discovering new places, which is why one of my main hobbies is running around until I got tired and walking around the city on a sunny day. When I’m at home I like reading books and watching movies, especially sci-fi ones. I also enjoy spending time with my computer doing basic programming. And I like playing video games too. I would never say no to a good Mario Kart or Smash Bros match with friends.

Jianyu Shen

Ph.D. student

Education
2022 – present Ph.D. student of Helleday Lab, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
2016 – 2017 MSc in Drug Discovery and Translational Biology, The University of Edinburgh, Scotland
2012 – 2016 BSc in Biopharmaceutical, Zhejiang Sci-Tech University, China
Experience
2017 – 2021 Researcher of R&D department, Huadong Medicine Co., Ltd, China
Who am I?
I like watching musicals and reading books in my spare time.

Shenyu Chen

Master’s student

Education
2021 – 2023 Master candidate in toxicology, Karolinska Institutet 
2017 – 2021 BSc in Biochemistry and Pharmacology, joint program China pharmaceutical University and Strathclyde University UK 
Research Interest
Cancer, pharmacology, drug delivery, immunology and oncology, metabolic diseases
Who am I?
I like many sports (gym, climbing, tennis) and I am very glad to try new sports. Photography and coffee making (pouring coffee and latte art) are both my daily hobbies. Outside of the lab, I am a part-time photographer who also knows a little about coffee culture. I like trying new things and studying deeply what I am interested in.  

Team Basic Science

Oliver Mortusewicz

Team leader  & Project leader

Education
1999 – 2004 Diploma in Biology, University of Kaiserslautern and Ludwig Maximilians University, Germany
2005 – 2007 Ph.D. in Biology, Ludwig Maximilians University, Germany
Experience
2008 – 2010 Postdoctoral researcher, Ludwig Maximilians University, Germany
2010 – 2012 EMBO Fellow, postdoctoral researcher, Gray Institute, UK
2012 – 2013 Postdoctoral researcher, Stockholm University, Sweden
2013 – present Team leader Basic Science & Project leader, Science for Life Laboratory, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
Who am I?
In my spare time, I enjoy photography, cycling, hiking, and reading.

Helge Gad

Principal Researcher

Education
1996 Master of Science in Biology, Stockholm University 
2000 PhD in Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet 
Experience
2001 Research assistant, Karolinska Institutet        2002 – 2004 Post-doctoral fellow, Karolinska Institutet, Department of Neuroscience 
2004 – 2006 Post-doctoral fellow, Consorzio Mario Negri Sud, Italy
2007 – 2012 Senior Scientist, Stockholm University, Department of Genetics Microbiology and Toxicology
2012 – 2019 Senior Scientist, Karolinska Institutet, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics
2019 – 2022 Research Fellow, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom
2022 – present Principal Researcher, Department of Oncology and Pathology, Karolinska Institutet
Research Interest
Understanding the molecular mechanisms of DNA repair at telomeres in human cells. Development of small molecules and validation of drug targets including the Uracil glycosylase SMUG1 and the endonuclease APE2, an enzyme involved in telomere maintenance and PARP inhibitor resistance.
Who am I?
I live on the countryside with my wife, two teenage boys and a small dog. I like to create jewelry in silver and glass and to play the cello.

Maeve Long

Postdoctoral Researcher

Education
2013 – 2018 Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology, University College Dublin, Ireland.
2009 – 2013 Cell and Molecular Biology BSc. (Honours degree), University College Dublin, Ireland
Research interest 

Who am I?
I love to go hiking and dancing in my free time.

James Haslam

Ph.D. Student 

Education
2022 Ph.D. Student, Helleday Lab, KI
2020 2022 Graduate Scientist, AstraZeneca, Gothenburg, Sweden
2019 2020 Research Intern, AstraZeneca, Cambridge, UK 
2018 2020 BSc Biochemistry with Study in Industry – Bristol University, UK

Research Interest
Drug discovery, DNA Damage Response, cancer biology, molecular biology, inflammation biology, gene editing

Who am I?
An explorer at heart, I really enjoy traveling to new cities (cafes), landscapes (camping), and nature (hiking) whenever I can! My ideal weekend would consist of exploring an area I hadn’t been to before, and finding the coziest café/art gallery, before going out with friends.
 

Ruogu Pan

Ph.D. Student 

Education
2018 Master of Medicine major in General Surgery, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China

2021 Ph.D. of Medicine major in Liver Surgery & Liver Transplantation, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China

Research Interest
Cancer research, drug discovery, ROS, epigenetic regulation, organ transplant-related research.

Who am I?
I enjoy photography, hiking, and exploring fantastic things in my spare time. I really like getting in touch with new friends and new things.
 

Hannah Stigsdotter

Research Assistant

Education
2022 MSc in Nutrition Science, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
2021 BSc in Biomedicine, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
Research Interest
Cancer research, Cell biology, Molecular biology, DNA damage signaling, Drug discovery
Who am I?
In my spare time, I enjoy lifting weights at the gym, spending time in nature, reading, and watching series. 

Liuzhen Meng

Master’s student

Education
2016 – 2020 BSc in Biomedical Sciences, South University of Science and Technology of China (SUSTC)
2020 – present KTH/Karolinska/SU joint Master Program: MSc Molecular Techniques in Life Science
Research Interest 
biochemical assays and development for DNA glycosylases, confocal microscopy (FRAP, MI)

Sina Jasmin Wille

Master’s student 

Education
2017 – 2018 Voluntary Year in Science at the Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Germany
2018 – 2021 B.Sc. Biochemistry at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany
2021 – present  M.Sc./Ph.D. program at IMPRS Molecular Biology, Göttingen, Germany
Research Interest
Cell biology, Molecular biology, Cancer Research, Virology
Who am I?
In my free time, I enjoy playing Badminton, going for a run, or playing the clarinet in an orchestra.

Team Medicinal Chemistry

Martin Scobie

Team Leader & Project Lead

Education
After obtaining a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Edinburgh, I carried out post-doctoral work in Switzerland and the UK before going on to work in Biotech and Pharma in project leader and team leader roles (Oxford Diversity, Pharmacia, Biovitrum, Orexo). I met Thomas in 2010 and built up the current medicinal chemistry team working on novel targets in the area of DNA repair and metabolism.
Research Interest
My interests include lead-generation and lead-optimization strategies as well as the development of new synthetic methods.
Who am I?
I’m a keen fisherman and enjoy exploring Sweden’s wild places in pursuit of Trout and Grayling.

Evert Homan

Senior Researcher

Education
1988 – 1993 M.Sc. in Pharmacy (cum laude), the University of Groningen, the Netherlands
1993 – 1998 Ph.D. in Medicinal Chemistry (cum laude), the University of Groningen, the Netherlands
1998 – 1999 Postdoctoral Fellowship at Pharmacopeia, Inc., Princeton, New Jersey, USA
Experience
1999 – 2000 Computational Chemist at Pharmacopeia, Inc., Princeton, New Jersey, USA
2001 – 2008 Computational Chemist at Biovitrum, Stockholm, Sweden
2008 – 2010 Senior Computational Chemist at Beactica, Uppsala, Sweden
2000 – 2001 Computational Chemist at Pharmacia Corporation, Stockholm, Sweden
2010 – 2013 Chief Operating Officer at Beactica, Uppsala, Sweden
2013 – present Senior Researcher, Computational Chemistry at SciLifeLab, Stockholm, Sweden
Who am I?
In my free time I like to go ice skating, listen to 80’s rock music, play with computers, and relax at my summer house with my family.

Martin Henriksson

Chemist

Education

Research interest

Who am I?

Olov Wallner

Chemist

Education
2001 – 2006 Ph. D. in Organic chemistry, Stockholm’s University
2006 – 2008 Post-doc researcher, University of Bristol, UK
Experience
2008-2012 Research Scientist, Novadex Pharmaceuticals AB

Maurice Michel

Assistant Professor and Lead Enzyme Catalysis

Education
2010 Bachelor of Science Chemistry, Clausthal University of Technology, Germany
2012 Master of Science Applied Chemistry, Clausthal University of Technology, Germany and Max-Planck-Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Biomolecular Systems, Berlin
2017 Dr. rer. nat. Chemistry, Free University, Berlin and Max-Planck-Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Biomolecular Systems, Berlin & Potsdam
2017 – 2021 Postdoctoral Researcher, Science for Life Laboratory and Department of Oncology and Pathology, Karolinska Institutet
2022 –  present Assistant Professor in Chemical Biology at the Department of Oncology and Pathology, Karolinska Institutet
Research Interest
Protein activation, Medicinal Chemistry, Computational Chemistry, Chemical Biology, Glycochemistry & -biology, Peptide chemistry, Structural Biology, Inflammation
Who am I?
I like swimming in the lakes, rivers, and shores of the world. So one of my hobbies is taking my running shoes or the bike and scouting the area of Stockholm and Södermanland for a quiet spot to enjoy the water. During the long Swedish winter nights, I prefer playing cooperative online survival games with folks from the Nordics. Alternatively, I also enjoy some cross-country skiing over the endless tile counting in the local swimming pool. Number one in my life, however, will always be my family. Nothing better than to snuggle up and watch “Friends” (which is a term for re-watching everything a 90s kid grew up with) a thousand times.
Announcement
I am always looking for motivated students to help out in shaping the future of protein regulation. Are you a biochemist, biologist, data scientist, or chemist? Whatever your expertise is, you get the unique opportunity to work alongside a world-class Drug Discovery Team and interact with colleagues specializing in chemical biology and biochemistry. Get in touch today and find out more about possible internships and thesis projects at maurice.grube@scilifelab.se

Florian Ortis

Research Assistant

Florian is a collaborative Research Assistant at the Interface of the Elsässer Lab and the Chemistry Team of the Helleday Lab
Education
2016 – 2019 Bachelor Programme in Chemistry at the University of Vienna, Austria
2019 – 2021 Joint Master Programme Molecular Techniques in Life Science at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Karolinska Institutet and Stockholm University, Sweden
Since 2021 Master’s Programme in Organic Chemistry at Stockholm University, Sweden
Research Interest
Organic Synthesis, Medicinal Chemistry, Chemical Biology
Who am I?
Outside of the lab, you can find me on the sports courts and ice rinks around Stockholm playing rugby, football or hockey. I am a history enthusiast and enjoy reading everything about it that I can get into my hands. Still figuring out how to unite my passion for chemistry and history. Bound for creating the next hit perfume out of our lab.

Adam Dickey

Chemistry intern

Research Interest
Organic Synthesis, Medicinal Chemistry, Carbohydrate, and Nucleic acid Chemistry, Organocatalysis, Asymmetric Synthesis, Computational Chemistry

Who am I?
I grew up in Northern Ireland in the town of Ballymena before moving to the University of St Andrews in Scotland to study Chemistry in 2019. I enjoy powerlifting, music, learning guitar, learning new languages, and video games. Outside of hobbies, I enjoy spending time with my family playing board games and feeding our pet cat Bob treats.

Heather Gildie

Chemistry intern

Education
2019 – 2023 University of St Andrews, Scotland: Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry, MChem (Hons) 

Research Interest
Organic Synthesis Mechanism in Organic Chemistry Pharmacology and Drug ADME

Who am I?
When not in the lab or studying I’ll be exploring the sights of Stockholm, playing netball, or baking something sweet!

Ross Milne

Chemistry intern

Education

Research Interest

Who am I?

Mikhael Elijah Mangala Astorga

Chemistry intern

Education
 2019 – 2022 BSc Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology with a minor in Biochemistry and Cell Biology at Jacobs University Bremen
Research Interest
Medicinal Chemistry, Translational Medical Research, Pharmacology, Drug Development
Who am I?
If you hear singing coming from the lab, that’s probably me. Aside from jamming out on the ukulele in my free time, I also enjoy cooking and baking for my friends. I’m the guy you want to hit up if you want to go on a super spontaneous trip anywhere in the world (if visas and finances allow).

Holly Dawnson

Chemistry intern

Education

Research Interest

Who am I?