Funded Researcher Testimonies
Most recently funded listed first, scroll down for those already completed.
Ana Carolina Padua
Mathematics of collective behavior and intelligence (de Polavieja) Lab
What Invited instructor at Quantitative Biology (UQ-Bio) summer school, sharing experience with mathematical models, tracking systems in python
Where US, Colorado State University
When 31 May-17 June 2023
Knowledge Exchanged and Impact (Personal, Institutional) In progress
Cell Fitness Lab (Moreno)
What Secondment to learn technique of FRET for protein-protein interaction (Yasuyuki Fujita Lab)
Where JP, Kyoto University Medical School
When 20 May-3 June 2023
Knowledge Exchanged and Impact (Personal, Institutional) In progress
Raquel Pessoa-Silva, Ana Beatriz de Almeida Rasteiro, Raquel Lopes
Immunophysiology (Veiga-Fernandes) Lab / Myeloma Lymphoma (João) Lab
What Exposure to cutting-edge Immunology experimental techniques at summer school from European Network of Immunology Institutes
Where IT, Alghero, Sardinia
When 12-19 May 2023
Knowledge Exchanged and Impact (Personal, Institutional) "The advanced immunology summer school (https://www.eventcreate.com/e/summerschool2023) is designed for early stage researchers that want to expand their knowledge in immunology. Thanks to QuantOCancer, we attended the 16th ENII Summer School in Alghero (Sardinia, Italy). We learned about vaccines, tissue-resident immune cells, microbiota, tumor microenvironment , immunotherapies, among many other topics from top scientists in Europe. Overall, we had a variety of interactions from leaders in immunology , including “Meet the expert” tutorial sessions to allow greater interaction and time to discuss scientific ideas and career paths. We met plenty of people from many countries across Europe and we also had the opportunity to present and discuss our PhD projects and receive valuable feedback."
Stem cells and Regeneration Lab (Rhiner)
What Secondment to Drosophila Immunity and Symbiosis Lab (Bruno Lemaitre) to gain expertise in cutting-edge methods for quantitative analyses to study tissue dynamics in the adult fly intestine
Where CH, Global Health Institute, EPFL Lausanne
When 14-20 May 2023
Knowledge Exchanged and Impact (Personal, Institutional) "We recently detected significant inter-organ communication between the injured brain and intestinal stem cells in the adult fly gut that regulate intestinal regeneration and composition of gut tissue that has important implications for nutrient uptake and immune defense. Importantly, brain systemic interactions involving the intestine are also observed in patients that suffer from traumatic brain injury or stroke, but the underlying molecular mechanism are unknown.
To gain expertise in cutting-edge methods for quantitative analyses to study tissue dynamics (proliferation, differentiation) in the adult fly intestine including tracing of stem cell progeny and mitotic markers, and quantitative analyses of factors secreted into systemic circulation (hemolymph/immune cells) in flies upon brain injury, I applied to the QuantOCancer funding instrument, which enabled me to visit the laboratory of Prof. Bruno Lemaitre, a distinguished expert in the field. Bruno has discovered conserved Toll immune pathway signaling and works on immune defense and injury sensing mechanisms, which are well developed in the fly gut."
Neuropsychiatry (Oliveira-Maia) Lab
What To acquire and practice both clinical and research skills in the diagnosis and treatment of Affective Disorders refractory to standard therapeutic strategies
Where UK, Maudsley Advance Treatment Service and National Affective Disorders Service, London
When 1 June-24 June 2022
Knowledge Exchanged and Impact (Personal, Institutional) "Maudsley Advance Treatment Service and National Affective Disorders Service, London, is one of the worldwide state of the art institutions for diagnosis and treatment of Affective Disorders resistant to standard treatment strategies, offering research and clinical training in this area of expertise. I acquired and practised both clinical and research skills in the diagnosis and treatment of Affective Disorders refractory to standard therapeutic strategies. Particularly, I developed technical skills in the area of treatment resistant depression, namely in the use of innovative therapeutic strategies such as the use of Ketamine, Esketamine, among other strategies. I also developed my research skills in this field namely in the conduction of clinical trial. All these expertise are expected to be shared with my peers not only in the Unit but also other labs working in this field, that will certainly be extremely useful for current ongoing clinical and research activities as well as for future projects. Currently, the unit is involved both in clinical and research projects in Treatment Resistant Depression, in collaboration with other labs/units, namely in the use of innovative treatment strategies, including TMS and Esketamine. My training will help further developing the current ongoing projects but also will help implement new upcoming projects that are expected to be widely competitive both nationally and internationally."
José Teixeria / Joana Catarino
Natural Intelligence (McNamee) Lab / Systems Neuroscience (Mainen) Lab
What Mini-secondments to multiple different labs to learn their techniques for the chronic implantation of neuropixels probes in mice
Where UK, London
When 8-12 October 2022
Knowledge Exchanged and Impact (Personal, Institutional) "The goal of this trip was to learn and compare the different techniques developed by those laboratories in order to develop an in-house pipeline for the same kind of recordings. The possibility of visiting and interacting with different labs allowed the traveling researchers to have a better understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of each technique regarding their complexity, cost and effectiveness. Additionally, they got acquainted with the instrumentation required for the implantation and posterior recovery of the probes from the experimental animals, allowing for the reduction of the long term costs of using this technique. The visits were carried out as follows:
Tiago Branco’s lab at Sainsbury Wellcome Centre: The researchers met with Dario Campagner, who presented their technique for the implantation and posterior recovery of the probes. This technique is the simplest and most cost effective and is compatible with both the 1.0 and 2.0 versions of the neuropixels probes. Dario also supplied them with 3D printed components for the assembly of such probes in the CCU.
Matteo Carandini’s lab at University College London: The researchers met with Célian Bimbard and Coen Pip and were able to spectate the surgical implantation of their design in a mouse. This technique allows for the simultaneous implantation of two individual neuropixels probes and the easy customization of probe geometry in order to target diverse brain regions from which one can record from. The host researchers provided José and Joana with their designs for both 1.0 and 2.0 neuropixels probes.
Yoh Isogai’s lab at Sainsbury Wellcome Centre: The researchers met with Yoh, who described their design, and with Shanice Bailey, who showed them an implanted animal behaving on their experimental system.
Following up on the trip, the researchers were able to set up a new surgical system in one of the vivarium experimental rooms of the CCU that is specifically tailored for this kind of surgeries, and already performed the chronic implantation of a neuropixels probe in one mouse as a first attempt to apply the knowledge acquired in the trip. Also, they engaged in discussion with the Hardware Platform to assess the possibility of in-house 3D printing of the necessary components for the implants. With this, the researchers were able to start developing a protocol for implementing these techniques that not only takes into account the specific possibilities and limitations in terms of equipment available at the CCU, but also the research goals of the different groups/labs that can profit from these methodologies. Such a protocol should make a significant contribution to the research performed at the CCU by enabling researchers to record from the same neurons over extended periods of time, a fundamental requirement to study the neural dynamics of learning and memory-formation, while also opening up the possibility of recording the neural activity of freely-behaving animals (including during rest/sleep in the homecage) with state-of-the-art high density probes."
Molecular and Experimental Pathology (Castillo) and ImmunoTherapy/ImmunoSurgery (Maurer) labs
What Secondment to learn methods of NK cell isolation and expansion from human specimens and develop CAR-NK cells for adoptive cell therapy
Where US, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, NK cell Gene Manipulation and Therapy (Rizwan Romee)
When January-November 2022*; April-December 2023* (*Only partially supported by QuantOCancer, as defined by maximum secondment funding length rules - additional FLAD and Fulbright funding)
Knowledge Exchanged and Impact (Personal, Institutional) "Immunotherapy research is growing around the world as well as in Portugal. However, to the best of my knowledge, no laboratory in Portugal is developing chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) technologies and specially CAR- Natural Killer (NK) cells. A direct impact of this secondment is to bring this exceptional technology to Portugal, facilitate knowledge exchange on how translational research and clinical trials are developed at a world-renowned cancer institute/medical school, increase our network of collaborators, especially in immunotherapy for cancer treatment, facilitating design of new clinical trials with patients recruited at the Champalimaud Clinical Centre.
This studentship was a great challenge for me, personally and academically...crucial for my PhD work since I was able to learn not only different methodologies but also how translational research and clinical trials are developed at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School. Furthermore, I was able to increase my network, especially in my research field – immunotherapy – which will have a great impact in my future career. Personally...I have never lived in another country...and I believe that it will be one of the best moments of my life. Even with the financial help I was awarded for this internship from the “Fundação Luso-Americana para o Desenvolvimento” (FLAD) and with the non-financial support that I also won from the Fulbright Foundation, it would have been very difficult for me to cover all the expenses involved in this internship without QuantOCancer funding due to the high cost of living in the US".
Ana Rita Mendes
Neuroethology (Lima) Lab
What Exposure to Neural Systems & Behaviour Techniques, Laboratory Course
Where Woods Hole, USA
When 28 May-24 July 2022
Knowledge Exchanged and Impact (Personal, Institutional) "Each group of classes was followed by experimental projects in which the students are expected to develop setups and behavioral paradigms, to test what was discussed...the results were analyzed and presented before proceeding to the next set of projects. Different models can be used to answer different questions and this gave me the opportunity to learn more about research performed with leeches, flies, fish and C. elegans-species I never worked with before. This will certainly teach me how to choose the right model system for a specific scientific question and will be important for my future career as an independent researcher. The opportunity to analyze data acquired during the student projects and make a story out of it will be of fundamental significance for my progress as a scientist. I only have basic knowledge in programming, and I am still beginning to learn how to use this skill in my PhD, so having the chance to improve the way I do data analysis was essential to correctly producing my results. Besides the course...i was an extremely rich scholar environment with the opportunity to attend several external speaker's talks held at the Marine Biological Laboratory during the summer. My time spent (at MBL) also granted me the chance to network and meet possible collaborators for future work.
My participation...allowed me to become a better scientist, with a broader knowledge...and I believe that this course will allow me to fruitfully contribute to scientific discussions with many groups at the CCU and suggest alternatives for experimental problems they might face. Specifically, the knowledge acquired in different electrophysiological techniques and how to build the setups to perform them, can be applied in several labs at the CCU. Furthermore, while attending the course I was able to show how the CCU has helped me to improve as a scientist. This will surely attract other students and postdocs to learn more about the institute and potentially come here to develop their own research ideas."
Myeloma Lymphoma (João) Lab
What Secondment to learn to generate 3D tissue engineered pre-clinical Multiple Myeloma models, able to mimic the bone marrow immune microenvironment, with expert who set up related biotech company Cellatrix
Where US, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis (Department of Radiation Oncology, Kareem Azab)
When 15 January-13 March 2022
Knowledge Exchanged and Impact (Personal, Institutional) "One of the aims of my PhD thesis is to develop a novel immunotherapy for multiple myeloma (MM) using an ex vivo 3D model. The laboratory of Dr. Kareem Azab (Department of Radiation Oncology, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America) has several translational research projects running, including the generation of novel therapies against MM and a 3D tissue engineered MM model.
With QuantOCancer Funding, I was able to spend 2 months expanding my knowledge and learning new techniques with brilliant and outstanding scientists. I believe that all the hints and tools I have acquired will be essential to successfully develop my PhD project. Overall, I must say this was the best and biggest adventure of my life, which helped me to grow not only as a PhD student, but also as a person.
Ultimately, this was the beginning of an amazing collaboration with very promising preliminary results."
Stem Cells and Regeneration (Rhiner) Lab
What Exposure to Single Cell Transcriptomics Techniques, Cajal Training Course
Where Online (originally to be in-person - Covid contingency measure)
When 2-6 November 2020
Knowledge Exchanged and Impact (Personal, Institutional)"Initially planned as a practical workshop, this was adapted to an online series (Single Cell Transcriptomics) due to the pandemic situation. It was organized by Dr.Jens Hjerling-Leffler from the Karolinska Institute and Dr.Peter Kharchenko from Harvard University and focused on central ideas of single cell profiling through lectures and interactive sessions with prominent international faculty speakers. This course was a great opportunity to develop my knowledge on single-cell profiling techniques, specially to get exposed to the most recent cutting-edge techniques being used as well as to create a network with international experts in the field. I believe that this opportunity was a step forward in order to initiate a deep characterization of stem cells on the adult fly, allowing our project to thrive in the near future...I will make sure to spread the acquired knowledge not only to my research group but also to the CCU community."