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Sainsbury Laboratory


Dr Sofia Otero

During my PhD I worked on epigenetics, particularly on the histone H3 family in Arabidopsis, in the lab of Crisanto Gutierrez. I have been a postdoc in the Helariutta lab since June 2015, where I study phloem development in the Arabidopsis root. I am particularly interested in understanding the identity of the cells that surround the sieve element, the pipe that transports the nutrients from green leaves to non-photosynthetic tissues. To pursue this objective, I received a Herchel Smith Fellowship in 2017. In addition, I am interested in understanding the biogenesis of plasmodesmata.

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Dr Pawel Roszak

Research Interests

Development of multicellular organisms depends on a tight spatial and temporal control of locally operating genetic programs. Given genes become activated or repressed only in given cells leading to development of sophisticated tissue patterns. Control of mitotic activity and direction of cell division plane leads to directional growth and development of plethora of plant organ shapes. These mechanisms underlying plant morphogenesis remain main interest of my research.

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Dr Eva Hellmann

I joined the Helariutta group in SLCU in September 2014 and before worked in the Helsinki Helariutta group from June 2013. Before becoming part of the Helariutta Lab I was doing my diploma and PhD in the Institute of Applied Genetics, Freie Universitaet Berlin, with Alexander Heyl and Thomas Schmuelling. I analysed the mediation of the cytokinin transcriptional response e.g. by developing a screening system for novel modulators of cytokinin signaling.


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Dr Karolina Blajecka

I completed my MSc in Biotechnology (2006) at the University of Life Sciences in Poznan, Poland. I obtained my PhD in Cancer Biology (2012) at the University of Zurich having previously worked on the programmed cell death signalling pathway in Arabidopsis thaliana at the ETH-Zurich.

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Professor Yrjö Helariutta

Ykä Helariutta received his MSc (1990) and PhD (1995) from the University of Helsinki. Following a post-doctoral fellowship in the Benfey lab at New York University, he returned to Helsinki (1998) to launch his own research group focused on vascular development and wood formation.  In 2001 he was selected for an EMBO Young Investigator award, and in 2008 he became an EMBO Member. Ykä was also awarded an ESF Young Investigator grant in 2005 and became director of the Genome Biology Research Program at the University of Helsinki's Institute of Biotechnology in 2011.

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Latest news

Plants get a faster start to their day than we think

7 June 2021

To describe something as slow and boring we say it’s “like watching grass grow”, but scientists studying the early morning activity of plants have found they make a rapid start to their day – within minutes of dawn.

How do plants hedge their bets?

1 June 2021

In some environments there is no way for a seed to know for sure when the best time to germinate is. So how does a plant make sure that all of its offspring are not killed at once by an ill-timed environmental stress following germination?

Professor Giles Oldroyd elected to National Academy of Sciences

6 May 2021

Professor Giles Oldroyd has been elected as an international member of the National Academy of Sciences in the USA.