Q&A with the Sakamoto Group

Danial Ahwazi
I am currently a PhD student in the Sakamoto group and have been working at CBMR for 5 years. I initially I joined CBMR in January 2017 as a Master student before spending almost two years as a Research Assistant in the Barrès Group. Together with Professor Kei Sakamoto we kicked-off the laboratory in September 2019 and since then my focus has been on designing new molecular tools to assess non-insulin dependent glucose utilization in vitro and in vivo.

  •  My favorite protein: Can’t get enough of AMPK
  • The greatest lab equipment: My pipette thumb
  • A skill that I would like to acquire: Molecular modelling
  • A destination I love: Ilha Grande, Brazil


Tina Hellberg (Kristina Hellberg)
I obtained a PhD in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics from University of Minnesota, USA, where I analyzed adipose fatty acid binding protein (AFABP) and its role in adipose biology. My postdoc at Salk Institute for Biological Studies focused on AMPK in liver metabolism. Since spring 2021, I am a staff scientist in the Sakamoto group studying transcription factors regulated by AMPK in adipose tissue.

  • My favorite protein: Tfeb
  • The greatest lab equipment: Repetitive multichannel pipettes
  • A skill that I would like to acquire: Programming
  • A destination I love: My native Sweden


Tenna Bryde
I studied Cell Biology and Physiology (MSc) at the University of Copenhagen, where I specialized in insulin and type 2 diabetes. Being very enthusiastic about research related to metabolism, obesity, and exercise, I am now a PhD student in Kei’s group, where I aim to elucidate the mechanisms regulating metabolic functions in the liver. Some would call me the most organized member of the group – I think I am the most forgetful member of the group and because of this, I need to organize!

  • My favorite protein: Insulin (although I am sure that SIK2 will eventually capture my heart)
  • The greatest lab equipment: Labelling machine
  • A skill that I would like to acquire: Networking
  • A destination I love: Indonesia


Kasia Luda (Katarzyna Luda)
I work as a postdoc in Kei’s lab and provide expertise in immunology and immunometabolism. I have been gaining my work experience in different countries, and Denmark is the fifth one. At the CBMR I study how metabolism regulates the activities of our immune system. I hope that we can uncover some pharmacologically actionable metabolic targets to fine-tune the functions of our immune cells.

  • My favorite protein: All proteins are great and incredibly fascinating, as they possess all different kinds of functions to maintain our life. It is difficult for me to pick one protein, but I quite like the CD45 (AKA protein tyrosine phosphatase receptor type C) as it marks all our immune cells, AMPK as it guards our metabolic health and collagen as it keeps us smooth and tight J
  • The greatest lab equipment: Having the right lab equipment accelerates scientific discoveries and facilitates our daily life in the lab. I love that I have access to all kinds of equipment I need to pursue my research, but flow cytometers are by far my favorite… well, maybe second favorite right after a multichannel pipette ;-)
  • A skill that I would like to acquire: I would love to develop proficiency in XC skiing, so that one day I can make 90km in Vasaloppet sliding through the fabulous snowy landscape of Sweden. In addition to this, I must say that I am a terrible swimmer, but I love water, so I better should improve my swimming skills.
  • A destination I love: Poland is my homeland, a place where I grew up, where my family and closest friends live. To recharge my batteries, I need no more than just a trip to Poland. There, I can be spoiled by my mom, laugh with my siblings and make trips to the beautiful polish nature together with my friends.


Dipsikha Biswas
Indian by birth, cosmopolitan by heart. Interest in nutrient signaling and metabolism: PhD in fat metabolism during cellular differentiation (India), previous postdoc in amino acid metabolism (Canada) and currently I am a senior postdoc investigating regulation of glycogen metabolism in vivo in the Sakamoto group. When not in the lab, I like to write poems/prose, read fiction and procrastinate. Love cats (and dogs), dancing, overthinking and music (in no particular order).

  • My favorite protein: Tie between a lipase (ATGL, Adipose triglyceride lipase) and a kinase (BDK, Branched chain ketoacid dehydrogenase kinase)
  • The greatest lab equipment: Multichannel pipette
  • A skill that I would like to acquire: Want to be better conversant with analyzing Omics data
  • A destination I love: Wherever my favorite people are, Cape Breton (Canada), Kyoto (Japan).



Florentina Negoita
I am originally from Romania. I have a background in pharmacy, which I gained at University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Bucharest, Romania. I obtained my PhD at Ulm University, Germany, where I studied the changes in redox signaling occurring in senescent fibroblasts and skin ageing. During my postdoc training, I switched to studying metabolism and diabetes and how autophagy and lysosomes are affected in different tissues in metabolic diseases. After being a postdoc at Lund University, Sweden, I joined Kei’s group at CBMR and I am currently focused on dissecting signaling mechanisms behind transcriptional control of autophagy and lysosomes.

  • My favorite protein: TFEB
  • The greatest lab equipment: confocal microscope
  • A skill that I would like to acquire: CRISPR
  • A destination I love: Ven island


Joyceline CuencoPortrait of Joyceline Cuenco
I completed a PhD at Imperial College London working on drug development of obesity therapeutics based on gut hormones in the lab of Prof. Steve Bloom. I then worked as a postdoc in immunometabolism with the Islet team in the Immediab Lab, Paris. I joined the CBMR Sakamoto group at the end of summer 2022 so I am preparing myself for a Scandi Winter. Here, I look forward to investigating the effects of novel AMPK activators in the liver and their mechanisms of action.

  • My favorite protein: Glucagon – the bad guy of diabetes…or is it?
  • The greatest lab equipment: confocal microscope
  • A skill that I would like to acquire: R expertise
  • A destination I love: France, because of the variety it offers (and the wine/cheese)


Marianne Jensen
I studied Molecular Biomedicine (MSc) at University of Copenhagen, where I also obtained a PhD and postdoctoral training within Basic Metabolic Research focusing on NAD+ metabolism and skeletal muscle physiology. Additionally, I had postdoctoral training at Laval University, Québec Canada, working with the interactions of the microbiome and metabolism.

  • My favorite protein: AMPK (it keeps returning to me)
  • The greatest lab equipment: The Oroboros Oxygraph
  • A skill that I would like to acquire: Multi-tasking
  • A destination I love: New Zealand


Conchita Fraguas BringasPortrait of Conchita
I’m a PhD Fellow at CBMR and part of the Copenhagen Bioscience PhD programme. I obtained a BSc (Hons) degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Dundee in Scotland. I’m passionate about protein interactions and combining biochemistry techniques with bioinformatics tools, and I’m excited to study AMPK regulation as part of the Sakamoto group.

  • My favorite protein: It’s hard to decide. My answer would be the one I haven’t studied yet! There’s something exciting about the process of taking a first look at a new protein and then making it your own, by learning as much as you can about it and asking the right questions to try and dissect its function.
  • The greatest lab equipment: Pipette gun
  • A skill that I would like to acquire: Mouse/ in vivo work
  • A destination I love: The north of Spain where my mother is from. I have spent most of my summers there, and what’s unique about it is not only the great food and scenery (offering both mountains and sea) but also finding some family history in the streets of the city of Santander, with several buildings designed by my great grandfather.


Alex Bernard AddinsallPortrait of Alex Addinsall
I obtained my PhD in skeletal muscle physiology at Deakin University, Australia, where I characterized the functional role of Selenoprotein S in skeletal muscle health and function. Following which, I explored the underlying pathophysiology and the therapeutic potential of new physical and pharmacological therapies to counter ventilator-induced myopathies; Critical Illness Myopathy (CIM) and Ventilator Induced Diaphragm Dysfunction (VIDD) at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden. In Spring 2022 I joined the Sakamoto group at CMBR, where I am currently focused on unearthing and understanding regulators of AMPK.

  •  My favorite protein: SEPS1/SelS
  • The greatest lab equipment: Multichannel pipette
  • A skill that I would like to acquire: CRISPR
  • A destination I love: Deadvlei, Namibia


Marta Pradas JuniPortrait of Marta Pradas Juni

Pharmacist and scientist at core. I obtained my PhD in molecular biology and genetics of Type 2 diabetes in Barcelona. Afterwards, I joined the Max Planck Institute for Metabolism research as a postdoc to explore noncoding RNAs in in vivo glucose homeostasis and metabolism in the liver. A lab relocation brought me to Denmark where I later joined the Sakamoto group.

  • My favorite protein: transcription factors and noncoding RNAs
  • Greatest lab equipment: colony management software
  • A skill I would like to acquire: some level of coding
  • A destination I love: I can’t get over the people’s kindness and landscapes of Laos. However, Menorca is the place where I could go a thousand times and never get tired of

Kei Sakamoto

  • My favorite protein: LKB1
  • The greatest lab equipment: My home-made muscle incubation apparatus
  • A skill that I would like to acquire: Machine learning
  • A destination I love: Brittany (France)