Briefly, tell us about your background and career up to this point?
I studied Biochemistry as an undergraduate at the University of Lisbon, Portugal, and researched developmental angiogenesis for my PhD in Professor Christiana Ruhrberg's laboratory at University College London (UCL). After successful postdoctoral studies at UCL and University of Oxford with Professor Paul Riley investigating the epigenetic regulation of the epicardium and role of cardiac lymphatics during heart development and disease, I was awarded a British Heart Foundation (BHF) Intermediate Basic Science Research Fellowship to start my research group in Oxford.
On the 1st of January, I joined King’s College London - School of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine and Sciences (Denmark Hill Campus) taking up a Lecturer position in Cardiovascular Medicine and moving my research focus to King’s. My group studies the molecular underpinnings of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in the developing and diseased heart. In addition, we retain an interest in understanding cell-cell interactions in the developing heart supporting coronary and lymphatic vasculature expansion, as well as patterning of the cardiac autonomic system. A better understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms supporting organ development is poised to identify molecular targets to effect (adult) heart repair.
Do you have any current projects that you’d like to tell us about?
I am very excited to set up my laboratory in the James Black Centre (Denmark Hill campus) and further my studies investigating the cell and molecular regulation of heart development. For instance, the role of the Slit/Robo signalling pathway in cell-cell communication during epicardial epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT), funded by a recently awarded BBSRC research grant, and elucidating the regulatory mechanisms upstream and downstream of the essential epicardial EMT transcription factor Wilms’ Tumour 1, supported by British Heart Foundation.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
In five years’ time I will be fully integrated in King’s College London developing fundamental research in cardiovascular medicine to support development of novel therapeutical approaches to treat heart disease. This will be achieved by securing competitive funding and expanding my research team. In addition, I will be contributing to the training of the next generation of academics via my commitment to teach Cardiovascular Sciences.
What do you do with your time outside academia/work?
Outside academia/work, my time is dedicated to my family. We enjoy going out for walks and exploring the lovely countryside around us (Berkshire), as well as watch films – these days mostly Disney/Pixar! Also, I like swimming as a means to relax and keep fit.
What are you most looking forward to this year?
This year is all about starting at Kings’ College London as a Lecturer in Cardiovascular Medicine and further my research focus.
What is something positive that happened to you in 2022?
I got this new job at King’s College London and I was awarded a competitive BBSRC Research Grant to expand my research portfolio and group.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
Being awarded a Fellowship from the British Heart Foundation to initiate my transition to independence as a researcher in Cardiovascular Medicine.
Summer (white sandy beach and the ocean, what’s not to like!)
Death with Interruptions, Jose Saramago and Foucault’s Pendulum, Umberto Ecco
Portuguese - conscious bias, perhaps 😊
One thing you could not go a day without:
Coffee (double expresso and/or black americano)