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Group Members

Group photo (Oct, 2022)

Who we are

The official language in the group is English, and our neighbours – the groups led by Dr. Gilles Vanwalleghem and Prof. Daan van Aaltan – are also pretty much internationals, too. We are in an environment where you hear people speaking English in the corridors. If you like to experience an extraordinary work place (in a good way!) with an aim to increase your international competence for your future career, come and join us ;)

The Team

Yuya Hayashi

Assistant Professor / Group leader, Jan 2020 –

Yuya obtained BSc in Environmental Biology at the University of Reading, U.K., in 2007, with a thesis project on the environmental impact of the common pharmaceutical ibuprofen on the model organism Daphnia magna (he subsequently managed to publish the work in the journal Ecotoxicology!). It was around this time that his passion in life science started, and he moved to Denmark setting off on an entirely new journey exposing himself to the facinating world of Nanoscience at Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center (iNANO), Aarhus University. He thus completed 5 years of the PhD programme in 2014 with a number of publications on the nanoparticle-protein interactions and how they are recognized by earthworm immunocytes as a model of innate immunity. Continuously supported by external funding, he has strived to develop his own scientific career as an independent postdoc researcher working on a zebrafish model for bionanoscience studies (2015-2019) and as a junior group leader diving into the emerging field of extracellular vesicles (2020-2022). Now with the prestigious group starting grant awarded from Novo Nordisk Foundation, he is establishing the laboratory for bioinspired nanomedicine (with co-affiliation to iNANO) to merge his expertise on extracellular vesicles and nanomedicine starring zebrafish as his favourite model organism.

Rikke Halse Østergaard

PhD student, Aug 2022 –

Rikke is the very first PhD student of the group funded by Novo Nordisk Foundation. She has just completed her Master's degree here at the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics with a thesis on milk extracellular vesicles (EVs). She will expand her knowledge on the EV biology with a main focus on its cargo – microRNA, a type of RNA that can regulate gene expression and thus is said to drive cell-to-cell communication. Bioinformatic analysis of the extracellular RNA profiles and multimodal imaging of EVs in zebrafish embryos are her main tasks in the project.

Open position – PhD student on RNA origami and innate immunity

PhD student, 2024 –

This is an open position for the second PhD student of the group funded by Novo Nordisk Foundation. The PhD student will have a solid background in Nanoscience, Molecular Biology or Chemistry, and is expected to tackle the big challenge of developing safe-by-design RNA origami nanostructures that can mimic extracellular vesicle's role in cell-to-cell communication. The project will involve highly interdiciplinary collaborations spanning RNA nanotechnology, antiviral immunity, intravital imaging of different model organisms (zebrafish embryos and mice).

Danna Theresa Vo

Prospective MSc student, Feb 2023 – June 2023 (BSc); Aug 2023 – Jan 2024 (MSc)

Danna is a prospective MSc student at the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics. Her bachelor's thesis project was to study wound-induced expression of genes involved in endothelial biology and inflammation in a zebrafish model using a multivariate and network biology approach. She continues this work for a molecular biology project to look at changes in the miRNA cargo of endothelial cell-derived extracellular vesicles in order to correlate miRNA-mRNA profiles in tissue regeneration.

Kåre Bandholtz Kabel

Prospective MSc student, Feb 2023 – June 2023 (BSc); Aug 2023 – Jan 2024 (MSc)

Kåre is a prospective MSc student at the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics. In his bachelor's thesis project, he designed a number of DNA constructs to study intra-/intercellular trafficking of extracellular RNA in cell cultures. His thesis work is now extended to a molecular biology project to test the constructs in zebrafish to visualize putative carriers of miRNA in the extracellular space.

Marta Degl'Innocenti

Erasmus+ intern, Sep 2023 – Dec 2023

Marta is an intern student (MSc, Medical, Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology) from the University of Florence, Italy. Seeking new opportunities abroad after an MSc degree in the biomedicine field, she is now carrying out an exploratory project on the EV biology of neuroinflammation. The main focus of the training is to learn the techniques to study endogenously-labelled EVs and to combine them with a zebrafish model of strokes and traumatic brain injuries.

Toke Ivik Ketwa-Driefer

Visiting medical student, Aug 2022 –

Toke is a visiting medical student from the Department of Biomedicine. He is learning basic molecular biology techniques and carrying out a voluntary project on extracellular vesicle biology of neuroregeneration using zebrafish as a model organism.


Claus Oxvig


Claus has been Yuya's mentor since 2015 when Yuya started his first DFF-funded postdoc research to develop a zebrafish model of innate immunity for bionanoscience. Apart from the two of them both being a zebrafish researcher and a cat-owner, their study themes barely overlap. Claus therefore supports the educational aspect of the team. 


Agnes Margrethe Ottosen Gejl

Bachelor student, Feb 2023 – Aug 2023

Agnes was a BSc student at Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center (iNANO). Her bachelor's thesis project was co-supervised by Daniel Otzen (iNANO) and Gilles Vanwalleghem (MBG/DANDRITE) and was about visualization of alpha-synuclein aggregates, the synaptic protein involved in pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease. She used zebrafish embryos as a model system that allowed live imaging of exogenous alpha-synuclein with a particular focus on its propagation in the gut-brain axis.

Beti Pesen

Erasmus+ intern, Oct 2022 – Jan 2023

Beti was an intern student (BSc, Molecular Biology and Genetics) from Demiroglu Bilim University, Turkey. Following graduation from her home university, she visited here for an internship through the Erasmus+ programme to learn common and advanced techniques used for the zebrafish model in nanomedicine. In particular, she was trained in microinjection of various nanoparticles including those used in nucleic acid nanotechnology. She also created a transgenesis construct for expressing RNA origami in zebrafish.

Nilsu Gülyiğit

Erasmus+ trainee, Jun 2022 – Aug 2022

Nilsu was a visiting BSc student (Molecular Biology and Genetics) from Bilkent University, Turkey. She was here for summer traineeship through the Erasmus+ programme to learn common techniques used for zebrafish xenograft models in cancer immunology. She was trained in general handling of zebrafish embryos, culturing of mammalian cancer cell lines, microinjection, bioimaging, and academic presentation skills. 

Lisa Peuker

Erasmus+ MSc student, Aug 2020 – Jan 2021

Lisa was an Erasmus+ MSc student visiting from Leipzig University, Germany. She was also Yuya's first project student. Her stay was unfortunately hit by the second corona lockdown, but she managed to complete a molecular biology project on the validation of a zebrafish "TRAP" method for endothelial cell-specific translatomics. She learnt general handling of zebrafish embryos, nanoparticle injection, bioimaging, immunoprecipitation, in vitro transcription, whole-transcriptome amplification, quantitative real-time PCR, and PCR arrays. In return, her efforts on repeated experiments provided the foundation of Yuya's new approaches to isolation of polysomes and extracellular vesicles from zebrafish embryos. She is now doing a PhD at Leipzig University.