• PL 56 (Viikinkaari 5)




Tutkimustuotoksia vuodessa

Henkilökohtainen profiili


My basic background is in chemistry, with a major in physical chemistry. As an undergrad I spend a summer as a research associate in the Graduate Research facilities of the School of Chemistry where I get interested in physicochemical properties of proteins. I started my research career in 1984 when I joined the Photosynthesis Laboratory at the Plant Biochemistry Department, School of Chemistry, National University of Mexico, as an undergraduate student. My research was on the study of herbicides and their effects on photosynthetic electron transport system. Thereafter, I accumulated substantial experience in enzymology, biochemistry, molecular biology, and biophysics upon accomplishing my doctoral thesis and later during a postdoctoral training on bioenergetics at the University of Illinois in the USA. My professional development in this area was further augmented during my work at the Helsinki Bioenergetics Group in University of Helsinki. With this robust background I changed fields when I was offered a leader position at The Drug Development Technology Centre (DDTC, today CDR) at the University of Helsinki, where I became very interested in drug development and brain research. After that, I joined the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Kuopio, which further strengthened my professional career in these fields, and I started to become known within the proline specific peptidases field. Subsequently, I started to do important contributions to the field since then and during my work at the Spanish “Centro de Investigación Príncipe Felipe”, in Valencia. Thereafter, I continue my research at the Division of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapy, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Helsinki, and I have further developed successful international collaboration at European level. In 2014, I took over the leadership of the SPECT/CT Imaging Laboratory at the Faculty of Pharmacy. Besides managing in vivo small animal pre-clinical imaging service for scientist in academia and industry, I am involved in developing nuclear tracers for neuroinflammation and dopamine denervation in animal models of Parkinson's disease.

Tutkimuksen ja opetuksen kuvaus


Current main field. My current research interest is in in vivo imaging. As a head of the SPECT/CT laboratory my role is not only to manage the laboratory as a core unit of the Faculty of Pharmacy. My research goal is on the development new tracers for inflammation, particularly for neuroinflammation, in order to develop tools for its early detection. Also, work is conducted to characterise models of neurodegenerative disease in rodents aimed to serve as a tool for the validation of new therapeutic approach against the disease. We also have been working on the implication of neuropeptide metabolising enzymes on the molecular mechanisms of neuroinflammation, their roles on neurodegeneration and in clinical cases of multiple sclerosis and hepatic encephalopathy. This research focuses on prolyl specific peptidases as drug targets, studying their biochemistry, molecular biology and cell biology, their physiological relevance and the role on pathological processes from neurodegeneration to psychiatric disorders. This also involves the characterization of specific inhibitors.

I have been working on prolyl oligopeptidase (PREP) inhibitor development and testing since my appointment at Kuopio University, and I have been performing research on the biochemistry, regulation, expression and inhibitory action of PREP since then. I have participated on the development of biological models and protocols for PREP inhibitor testing as well as in purifying PREP-inhibitor targets. I am co-author of the latest relevant reviews on the role of PREP in health and disease, and on PREP basic and disease-oriented research. The research has produced relevant results on the biochemistry of PREP and its role in neuron physiology, brain neuropeptide metabolism and neuroinflammation. Most relevant publications are listed below (a comprehensive list of publications is can be seen in the link to Publications).


Research cooperation and collaboration

In the area of neuroinflammation, we currently cooperate with several laboratories across Europe in academia and industry, such as the laboratories of Prof Aleksander Žarkovsky, Department of Pharmacology, Tartu University; of Prof Steffen Rossner, Paul-Flechsig Institute of Brain Research, University of Leipzig; Dr Evert van Dijk, CEO Pepscan Presto, The Netherlands; Prof Anne-Marie Lambeir, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Antwerp; and Prof Vicente Felipo at Centro de Investigación Principe Felipe, in Valencia Spain.

Parallel to this work, during the current research on biomarkers and molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration, relevant collaboration with groups at the Department of Neurology of the University of Tampere (Irina Elovaara), at Turku University Hospital (Laura Airas), and at Valencia University Hospital (Carmina Montoliu), have been fundamental.

In the biotechnology arena, current collaborations with Dr Evert van Dijk, Pepscan, LTD (The Netherlands), and Theo Luider at Erasmus Medical Centre (Rotherdam), among others, has been built on the development of diagnostic platforms, based in peptidase variations in neurodegenerative diseases.

During my career, I have built collaborative inks to incorporate state-of-the-art technologies in my activities in research, drug development, and biotechnology, which include techniques like genomics and peptidomics (Genomics Group, Prince Philip Research Centre, Valencia, Spain) mass spectrometry  and protein chemistry (Protein Group, Institute of Biotechnology, Helsinki; Erasmus Medical Centre), gene manipulation (Turku Centre for Disease Modelling), epitope mapping (Pepscan,Leystad, The Netherlands), animal model development (Charles River Discovery Research Services, Kuopio), and molecular imaging (Radiochemistry, Meilahti Hospital; Department of Radiochemistry, University of Helsinki).

Several in-house collaborations have been also fundamental for my research, and include those with Pekka Männistö, Timo Myöhänen, and Raimo Tuominen at the Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology, and with Vootele Voikar at the Neuroscience Centre, University of Helsinki.


Tutkimuksen ja opetuksen kuvaus

Research expertise

I have worked in different areas of research, thus, I have developed expertise in several laboratory techniques. I consider myself a biochemist, since my graduate training was based mostly in that area. Thus, I have experience in protein separation and purification (chromatography, LC, HPLC, FPLC, differential centrifugation, precipitation, etc.), electrophoresis, immunoblotting, enzymology, kinetic assay, protein chemistry, etc. During my postdoc period I also obtained substantial experience in biophysical techniques, as optical, infrared and RAMAN spectroscopies, and EPR, and mainly in molecular biology techniques (Southern, Northern, library screening, cloning, expression systems, mutagenesis, etc.). I substantiated my expertise in these techniques during my stay at the Helsinki Bioenergetics Group. Due to my good command in Molecular Biology I continued to develop this area as the head of the Molecular Biology Laboratory at the Drug Development Technology Centre in Helsinki (today Centre of Drug Research), and I further developed expression systems and started to open my expertise in eukaryotic systems. In Kuopio, as a Molecular Biologist, I learned pharmacological techniques, as receptor binding, drug pharmacokinetic. There, I was introduced to animal work and animal pharmacology. I started also to work on genetic modification in mice. I have developed two mouse mutant strains (in the catechol O-methyl transferase gene, COMT) and one knockout strain (deficient in prolyl oligopeptidase, PREP, deficient). I also started my work on proteomic analysis, which was further straightened during my research in Valencia on peptidomic analysis, and obtained fruitful results in my current work in Pharmacology and Toxicology Division in Helsinki. Along this, my experience in protein chemistry and mass spectrometry has straightened. Currently I am developing expertise in nuclear molecular imaging, particularly in single photon emission computed tomography, SPECT.

At the Faculty of Pharmacy, I currently participate in teaching research techniques within the course "General Methods in Pharmacology" (590247), in teaching nuclear imaging within the course "Advanced Studies in Biopharmaceutics" (59173), and I am part of the teaching staff for the course of "Essentials of Molecular Biology in Pharmacy" (590283) where I teach epigenetics, genomics, and genomic analysis. I am also involved in the course "Imaging in Science and Medicine" (30248), within The Master's Degree Programme in Translational Medicine organised by the Faculty of Medicine.

I have been supervisor of several doctoral and master theses, and also within the European Erasmus program. 

Koulutus / tieteellinen pätevyys

Nuclear Sciences, Radiation Safety Officer

2 helmik. 201412 jouluk. 2014

Myöntöpäivä: 1 huhtik. 2015

Biochemical Pharmacology, Docent, Prolyl oligopeptidase in health and disease, Farmasian tiedekunta

2008 → …

Myöntöpäivä: 1 jouluk. 2008

Neurobiology, Ramón y Cajal Researcher, Biochemistry of Prolyl Oligopeptidase, Centro de Investigación Príncipe Felipe


Myöntöpäivä: 1 toukok. 2004

Neuropharmacology, Senior Resaercher, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry of drug targets, University of Eastern Finland (UEF)


Myöntöpäivä: 1 toukok. 2000

Pharmacy, Group Leader, Head of Molecular Biology, Drug Development Technology Centre, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Helsinki


Myöntöpäivä: 1 kesäk. 1997

Bioenergetics, Research scientist, Bacterial cytochrome oxidases, University of Helsinki, Department of Medical Chemistry


Myöntöpäivä: 1 kesäk. 1995

Bioenergetics and Biomembranes, Group leader, Instituto de Fisiología Celular, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México


Myöntöpäivä: 1 toukok. 1994

Biomedical research (biochemistry), Doctor in Philosophy, Characterization of two terminal cytochrome oxidases in Bacillus cereus, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico


Myöntöpäivä: 1 kesäk. 1990

Chemistry (biochemistry), Master in Science, Terminal respiratory oxidases of Bacillus cereus , Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico


Myöntöpäivä: 31 maalisk. 1988

Chemistry, Bachellor, The role of benzofuroxane in electron transport in photosynthesys , Univ Nacl Autonoma Mexico, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico


Myöntöpäivä: 1 kesäk. 1985

Biochemistry , Postdoctoral Scientist, Bacterial cytochrome Oxidases, Department of Biochemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign



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