Our Group

We share our interest in various aspects of venom research, ranging from venom discovery, evolution, phylogenetics, biochemistry, pharmacology, chemistry, and therapeutic application. We come from diverse scientific backgrounds and develop and implement research ideas both individually and together. In addition to being dedicated scientists, we care about the motivation, success, and well-being of team members and ensure a safe, positive, and inclusive environment where scientific problems and ideas can be openly shared, and where we learn from each other, regardless of background and academic rank.

Helena Safavi-Hemami

Assistant Professor

Bio: Diplom Biologie (2006, University of Cologne, Germany), PhD Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (2011, University of Melbourne, Australia), Postdoc (2012-2017, University of Utah, USA and University of Copenhagen, Denmark)

Passion: Research and education, being in nature

Email: safavihelena@sund.ku.dk

Walden Bjørn-Yoshimoto

Postdoc

Bio: BSc Biochemistry (2007), MSc (2010, University of Copenhagen), Research Scientist (2011-2013, Evovla A/S), PhD Drug Design and Pharmacology (2017, University of Copenhagen), Postdoc (2017-ongoing, University of Copenhagen)

Skills: Various molecular pharmacology assays (incl. binding and uptake assays, various fluorescence, FRET, and BRET assays), confocal microscopy, Python programming, various immunocytochemical assays (e.g. ELISA), rodent handling.

Passion: Research, neuroscience, the universe, tinkering, creating/building stuff (mainly electronics, 3D printing, and carpentry), hiking, automation, martial arts, and the three C’s, coffee making, cocktail mixing, and cooking

Email: walden@sund.ku.dk

Ebbe Engholm

Postdoc

Bio: MSc in Biology-Biotechnology (2013), Research Assistant (2013-14), PhD in Chemistry (2017, University of Copenhagen), PostDoc (2017-18, University of Copenhagen), Chemist (2018-19, Gubra Aps), Postdoc (2019-20, Aarhus University), Postdoc (2020-ongoing, University of Copenhagen)

Skills: SPPS, Insulin modification, HPLC purification, LC-MS analysis, and organic chemistry

Passion: Evolution, biology, cycling, cooking, and gardening

Email: ebbe.engholm@sund.ku.dk

Joshua Torres

Postdoc

Bio: BSc Chemistry (2007, University of the Philippines-Diliman), Research Associate (2009-2013, University of the Philippines), PhD Medicinal Chemistry (2020, University of Utah)

Skills: protein expression, biosynthesis, purification & structural elucidation of natural products, cell culture

Passion: Beach bumming, outreach, marine invertebrates, ice cream and pastries

Email: joshua.torres@sund.ku.dk

Sophie Heiden Laugesen

PhD student

Bio: BSc in Biochemistry (2016 University of Copenhagen, Denmark), MSc in Biochemistry (2018, University of Copenhagen, Denmark)

Skills: Protein expression, purification and biophysical analyses; protein folding; cloning, mutagenesis, CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing; computational sequence analyses; cell culture

Passion: Baking, boxing, running, hiking, music, and traveling

Email: sophie.laugesen@sund.ku.dk

Iris Bea Ramiro

PhD student

Bio: BSc in Chemistry (2009, University of the Philippines), Research Associate (2009-2017, University of the Philippines), MSc in Chemistry (2017, University of the Philippines)

Skills: Cone snail biology and biochemistry, collection, identification and dissection, venom extraction, fractionation and sequencing, synthetic peptide folding and purification, in vivo bioactivity screening, electrophysiology

Passion: Photography, adventure travel, outreach and teaching, hanging out with kids

Email: iris.ramiro@sund.ku.dk

ALUMNI / HONORABLE MENTION

Paula Flórez Salcedo

Honorary PhD student (former PhD student in our group, now in the Douglass lab at the University of Utah, USA)

Bio: BSc in chemistry (2016, Seton Hill University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA),

Skills: Cone snail biology lover and zebrafish aficionado (behavioral assays, in vivo, and in vitro calcium imaging); various skills in peptide synthesize, purification, and mass spectrometry; true believer in the power of peptides for biomedical use

Passion: Soccer, science, illustration, outreach, eating, outdoors, and most importantly hanging out with my dog

Editor’s note: Having played soccer in the Colombian national team (U-17 and U-21), Paula leads the athletic achievements of the group.

Email: paula.florez@neuro.utah.edu

Robert Paul Baskin

Honorary undergraduate student (former student in our lab, now at Ohio State Medical School, USA)

Bio: BSc Biology with Chemistry Emphasis (e. 2020) University of Utah, Utah, USA

Skills: OS X and Windows networking, bacterial cell culture, programming in Python, processing, Java, and R, BLAST and derivatives, animal handling (Aplysia californica and mice), calcium imaging

Passion: Beekeeping, medicine, cooking, volleyball, chemistry demonstration shows, and all winter sports (skiing, snowshoeing, snowcaving, and more)!

Email: r.paul.baskin@biochem.utah.edu

The Cone Snail

Treasured object of our research

Bio: Relatively young genus (oldest fossil: 55 million years); highly diverse (700-800 extant species); predation on polychaete worms was the ancestral state and the majority of living snails prey on worms. Snail and fish-hunting clades evolved later with the major radiation of fish-hunting cone snails during the Miocene, 15-10 mya.

Selected Skills: High-throughput peptide mutagenesis, biosynthesis and delivery

Passion: Enjoys the warm weather of the tropics with the greatest diversity found in the Indo-Pacific region, uses highly efficient venom delivery system to envenomate prey with a complex mixture of peptides (conopeptides or conotoxins).


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Want to work with us?

We’re always interested to hear from motivated students or postdocs that want to join our lab. Please send a short letter of interest and your CV.

email interest


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