Bio- ja ympäristötieteiden laitos

Microbial research and nano-biosensors

Dr. Leona Gilbert, PhD
Lee’s Research Group

University of Jyväskylä

Cell and Molecular Biology
Department of Biological and Environmental Science
P.O. BOX 35 (YA; Survontie 9)
FIN-40014 University of Jyväskylä

Lee's Research Group, a part of Cell and Molecular Biology in the Department of Biological and Environmental Science, provides teaching and undertakes research in a field bordering with biochemistry, chemistry, biotechnology, molecular and cell biology and nano-science. The main focus of Lee’s Research Group is:

Understanding Microbial Effectors that Contribute to Chronic Diseases

We provide a framework for the analysis of a common adverse viral / bacterial infection and its contribution to chronic autoimmune diseases. We want to investigate how tick-borne pathogens evade the immune system to establish chronic disease states such as Lyme disease. In order to investigate this we will characterize the parent and pleomorphic forms of these pathogens and specifically look at their interaction with the immune system. In conducting these studies, we hopefully will be able to provide insight in developing better point of care diagnostics of these tick-borne pathogens.

Another branch of our research is to investigate how common viruses, such as Human Parvovirus B19, can attribute to chronic ailments such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and Crohn’s disease. We are specifically looking at the direct involvement B19 has on producing autoantigens. The translational value of these studies will allow again better point of care treatments for the patient.

Our translational value to this research is directed in developing better point-of-care diagnostics for common pathogens. Our projects have included EU FP6 IMMUNOLEGIO “Rapid biotechniques based on immunosensors for in-situ detection of legionella in industrial and environmental water samples” (Sept 2006 - Aug 2008), EU FP7 Hilysens: FP7-SME-2010-262411, Highly sensitive and specific low-cost lab-on-a-chip system for Lyme disease diagnosis (1 Nov 2010 – 28 Feb 2013). Recently Tekes has provided funding for the TICK-TAG Project: Evaluation of the next generation Point-of-Care Diagnostic for Tick-Borne Pathogens (1 July 2015 - 31 Sept 2016).

The hallmark of Cell and Molecular biology is to approach biological problems with the methods of chemistry, cell biology, virology, molecular biology and nanoscience. Cell and Molecular Biology is a wise choice as a main subject for a Master's degree for those students interested in application of multi-disciplinary skills in biological research. In addition we have students working towards their PhD. Please see the following site for more information about studying in the Department of Biological and environmental Science (). The Cell and Molecular Biology approach is the factor connecting together the ongoing research projects in Gilbert’s group. Most of them have a strong nanoscience aspect. As an example we study magnetometric and fluorescent biosensors, applied immunology, and gene-delivery vehicles. The applications of the research vary from detecting environmental risk factors to combating microbial (viral or bacterial) infections and cancer. Other research projects under the Department of Biological and Environmental Science can be found on the following page To learn more about nanoscience, check out the Nanoscience Center homepage



Winner of Global Impact Prize 

POCKit Finalist in Helsinki Challenge.

Mar 2017        Why we need better diagnostics? Deutsche Borreliose-Gesellschaft e.V. Erfurt 24-25 March 2017.

Helsinki Challenge Pitch for POCKit


Semi-finalist for Helsinki Challenge:



Selected Borrelia highlights in the media:

Recent Publication: Development of a microfluidic design for an automatic lab-on-chip operation. 

29.4.2016 Startup. Tickplex startup-kiihdytysohjelman voittoon. Tickplex victor of StartUP Accelerator Program.

International Lyme and Associated Disease Society 6th European Conference – Helsinki, Finland. 10-11th June 2016. Call of Abstract open until 1st May 2016.

Patient Survey for tick-borne diseases and their involvement in their own treatment. Survey in in English, Finnish, German, and French. More languages coming. Go to the following to support this research.   WE NEED YOUR HELP.

Electronic version of my Leena Meriläine thesis titled “Characterization and Immunological aspects of Borrelia burgdorferi pleomorphic round bodies” is now in JYX:

Ympyrätalon apteekki. Hyvinvointiblogi, Varpu Tavi. 27.8.2015. Kiista kroonisesta Borrelioosista, osa 2. The pharmacy of Ympyrätalo, Helsinki. Health blog by Varpu Tavi. Controversy in chronic Borreliosis, part 2

Iltalehti 12.7.215 Neljä tiukkaa kysymystä borrelioosista. Four tough questions regarding Borreliosis.

Iltalehti 7.7.2015 Onko kroonista borrelioosia olemassa? Does chronic Borreliosis exist?

Talouselämä 25.6.2015. Monet punkin puremat ihmiset ovat väärin diagnosoituja tai vailla diagnoosia - Nyt tulee apua. Many people bitten by a tick are falsely diagnosed or lack proper diagnosis.

MTV 25.06.2015. Jyväskylän yliopistossa kehitetään testipakettia punkkitaudeille. New testkit for tick-borne diseases is under development in University of Jyväskylä.

Tekesiltä rahoitusta punkkien levittämien tautien diagnosointiin. Tekes provides funding for diagnosis of tick-borne diseases.

Meriläinen, L., Herranen, A., Schwarzbach, A., and Gilbert, L. 2015. Morphological and biochemical features of Borrelia burgdorferi pleomorphic forms. Microbiology Papers in Press. Microbiology. 161(3): 516-527. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.000027

Emerging Research in Ticks and Tick-borne Pathogens WEBSITE now open:

Winner of Best of Biotech Phase 1 Competition for TICK-TAG. 2014.


Morphological and biochemical features of Borrelia burgdorferi pleomorphic forms. ILADS 2015 Fort Lauderdale, USA. 15-18 June 2015.

The Spinning Research Wheel of Borrelia. Opening ceremony for the first BOrrelia Clinic in Helsinki, Finland. 28 Aug 2014.

Immunological consequence of pleomorphic round body forms of Borrelia burgorferi. 9th International Congress on Autoimmunity. Nice, France, 26-30th March 2014.

Autoimmunity consequence initiated by human parvovirus B19. International Parvovirus Workshop. 22-26th June 2014.

YLE1 Program MOT presents "Punkkipainajainen / Tick Nightmare". " June 2014, 8 pm.

ILADS 2014 European Lyme Disease Conference. Augsburg, Germany, 26 April 2014. Advances in Pleomorphic Forms of Borrelia.

Veterinærdagene 2014 Seksjon FVS / The Norwegian Veterinary Congress 2014– Tick Borne infections in animals and humans.

ÅPENT MØTE OM DIAGNOSTIKK AV LYME BORRELIOSE / Open meeting on Diagnostics of Lyme Borreliosis, Oslo, Norway, 16 Nov 2013: Developing Advances in Lyme Diagnostics.

Bio-Conference 2013, Oslo, Norway, 1 Nov 2013: Pleomorphic Forms and Biology of Borrelia.

ILADS Lyme Disease Conference, San Diego, USA, 19 Oct 2013: Immune Testing in Lyme Disease.

Finnish Lyme Borreliosis Association, Turku, Finland, 30 Aug 2013: HILYSENS.

Chiang Mai University. Department of Physics. 11 April 2013. Novel methods in Lyme Diagnostics.

RGJ-PhD Congress XIV. Pattaya, Thailand. 6 April 2013. Recent advances in Lyme Research.


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