Joensuu Group

Our mission is to advance the understanding of molecular mechanisms controlling neuronal endomembrane systems, with a focus on preventing and treating genetic diseases, as well as neuronal damage resulting from neurotoxins or viral infections.

The dynamic equilibrium of membrane proteins and lipids at the cell surface and neuronal endomembranes is a critical factor in health and disease.

Dr Merja Joensuu’s research group studies the lipid and protein determinants of cellular and neuronal membrane trafficking. The group is particularly interested in the neuropathological mechanisms of Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia, and mechanisms of neuroparalysis and viral infections. They use advanced imaging techniques such as live cell super-resolution imaging and high-resolution electron microscopy, and a range of cell biological techniques, to understand the molecular mechanisms regulating cellular membrane dynamics. Understanding how cells function in health and disease is critical for discovering novel therapeutic strategies for the treatment of disease, viral infections and neurointoxication pathologies.

Research Areas

  • Neuron and cell function
  • Lipid metabolism
  • Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia
  • Neuroparalytic mechanismseuroparalysis
  • Viral Infections
  • Membrane trafficking

Research Approach

Our research approach integrates cutting-edge imaging techniques with a diverse array of cell biological techniques to tackle complex scientific questions. We believe that a comprehensive understanding of the intricate pathophysiology underlying specific diseases is paramount for the discovery of effective treatments. By investigating the molecular and cellular mechanisms of neurons in health and disease, we aim to discover novel therapeutic targets and ultimately effective therapeutics, as well as anti-toxin and anti-viral approaches, that will improve human health.


10 Years, 10 Reasons: Dr Merja Joensuu


Since 2019

  • Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) in 2019


Click here to view Joensuu group publications


Group Leader