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THE NANOMEDICINE TEAM IN 2023

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João Conde, PhD

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      João Conde is a Group Leader and Professor at NOVA Medical School, ToxOmics, Nova Medical Research, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa. In 2014, he received his PhD in Biology with a specialization in NanoBiotechnology from the Universidade NOVA de Lisboa and the Universidad de Zaragoza as part of the FP7 European Consortium NanoScieE+-NanoTruck for the development of multifunctional gold nanoparticles for gene silencing. Following that, he was a Marie Curie Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Harvard-MIT Division for Health Sciences and Technology, and Queen Mary University of London's School of Engineering and Materials Science. From 2017 to 2019, he was a Junior Investigator at the Instituto de Medicina Molecular. In 2019, he won an ERC Starting Grant from the European Research Council (1.5M€) to build a genetic biobarcode to profile breast cancer heterogeneity. He is also a co-founder of the biotech company TargTex, Targeted Therapeutics for Glioblastoma Multiforme (Funding ~20M€, European Innovation Council Accelerator - 14M€). Since 2020, he is also part of the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Consortium from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), University of Washington. In 2023, he partnered with Vector Bioscience Cambridge and AstraZeneca to develop RNA-based cancer therapies from the European Innovation Council Transition (2.5M€). In 2023, was elected for the Scientific Advisory Board of FCT: Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia.

      The main aspects related to the recognition and diffusion of his early contributions are: more than 100 articles in journals of Cancer Therapy, Oncology, Nanotechnology/Materials Science and NanoMedicine (The Lancet, Nature Materials, The Lancet Oncology, Nature Nanotechnology, JAMA Oncology, Nature Communications, The Lancet Gastroenterol Hepatol, Nature Rev Methods Primers, PNAS, Nature Rev Bioengineering, Accounts of Chemical Research, The Lancet Child Adolesc Health, Progress in Materials Science, ACS Nano, Advanced Materials, JACS, Angewandte Chemie, Advanced Functional Materials, Advanced Science, Trends in Cancer, Trends in Biotechnology, Biomaterials, etc), more than 30 articles are as 1st author and more than 60 articles as corresponding author and cited more than 10.000 times (h-index 49). 25 of them have been selected as cover pages for journals such as Nature Materials, Nature Nanotechnology (COVID-19 Special Issue), The Lancet, The Lancet Oncology, ACS Nano, Adv. Functional Materials, Trends in Cancer, JACS, Angewandte Chemie, ACS Central Science, ACS Sensors, Biomaterials Science, ACS Applied Bio Mat, Adv. Healthcare Materials, Analytical & Bioanalytical Chemistry, and BioTechniques. In addition, 8 international patents on nanomaterials-based platforms for cancer therapy and diagnosis were submitted and approved. He was also awarded several international awards, including the 2023 and 2022 World’s Top 2% Scientists list by Stanford University, the Nanomaterials 2020 Young Investigator Award, the 2021 Biomaterials Science Emerging Investigator, the Top 2% Most cited in Nanoscience/ Nanotechnology from PLOS Biology, the Wellcome Image Awards 2017, the Nano-Micro Letters Researcher Award, and the National Cancer Institute Image Award.

Principal Investigator

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THE TEAM

Postdoctoral Researchers

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Bárbara B. Mendes, PhD

      Bárbara B. Mendes has a PhD in Tissue Engineering, Regenerative Medicine & Stem Cells, from University of Minho (Portugal) in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania (USA). She is the first-author and co-author of more than 10 full length papers published in international scientific journals, 3 book chapters, 8 oral communications and 19 poster presentations. In addition, she is inventor of 1 international patent. She has an h-index of 12 according to Google Scholar, and 10 for Scopus, and her work was cited more than 600 times.
For nearly five years, she has been researching and engineering intrinsically bioactive systems as mimics of the native extracellular matrix that find multiple research and clinical applications in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering field. She is conducting research work in a multidisciplinary ground, from biomaterials, drug delivery to gene therapy.

barbara.mendes@nms.unl.pt

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João Conniot, PhD

      João Conniot has a Master in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Lisbon (Faculty of Pharmacy). He obtained his PhD in Pharmacy in 2018, from the same University, under the supervision of Prof. Florindo from iMed.ULisboa, with a PhD scholarship from the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology. During his PhD studies João Conniot designed and optimized delivery systems for the co-entrapment of tumor-associated antigens and small nucleotide sequences as cancer nano-vaccines. After his PhD, João has focused on developing immune-oncology and immune-engineering approaches to improve the clinical outcomes of cancer immunotherapies. In the project GelGeneCircuit he is studying the immune cell profile within the tumor microenvironment with multicolor miRNA circuits to assess cancer therapeutic outcomes.

 

joao.conniot@nms.unl.pt
 

PhD Students

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Catarina Martins, MSc

      Catarina Martins graduated in Forensic and Criminal Sciences at Egas Moniz, in 2018. She obtained her master´s degree in Biotechnology at the Faculty of Science and Technology of University of Lisbon (FCT) in 2021. As a result of the work in the laboratory, a review article was published, “Gold Nanoparticles for Vectorization of Nucleic Acids for Cancer Therapeutics”. She was in two research grants, one in CENIMAT related to the detection of SARS-CoV-2 in biological samples and one in INSA related to a European project: “Enhancing whole genome sequencing (WGS) and/or Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) national infrastructures and capacities to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic in the European Union and European Economic Area”. Recently she gained a PhD scholarship from Portuguese Foundation of Science and Technology, under the supervision of Prof. João Conde at NMS and Prof. Luiz Liz-Marzán at CIC biomaGUNE, titled “Multilayer hydrogel microneedles for colorectal cancer Nanotherapeutics: A combinatory therapy solution”.

catarina.f.martins@nms.unl.pt

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Diana Sousa, MSc

      Diana Sousa graduated in Biochemistry and obtained a Master degree in Biochemistry for Health at NOVA School of Science and Technology of the NOVA University. She worked for three years as a research fellow in different labs in the fields of Medical and Health Sciences with emphasis on Immunology, Cell Biology, Glycobiology and Cancer Therapeutics and acquired experience in antibody development and characterization, cell line manipulation and immune cell isolation/differentiation, focusing on immunomodulatory processes. She is also interested in the development of anti-cancer targeted therapeutics and diagnosis tools using nanobiomaterials and is currently pursuing her PhD in Biomedicine at the Conde Lab working on the project "Gold-nanoconjugates as an approach to target microRNAs and immune-infiltrating cells involved in lung cancer progression", which aims to develop a therapeutic strategy using gold-nanobeacons as vectors for controlled and efficient silencing of endogenous microRNAs involved in lung cancer and to evaluate its effects alone and in combination with immunomodulatory strategies.

diana.sousa@nms.unl.pt

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Jhenifer Oliveira, MSc

      Jhenifer Oliveira graduated in Biochemistry at NOVA School of Science and Technology – UNL in 2018. She obtained her Master's degree in Biochemistry for Health at ITQB/FCT – UNL in 2021. Her dissertation project consisted of implementing and optimizing a 3D hepatic cell model and was performed at the Advanced Cell Models laboratory – iBET, under the supervision of Doctor Catarina Brito. During this project, she acquired experience in cell culture, 3D cell culture, fluorescence microscopy, image analysis and flow cytometry data analysis.  Recently, she joined Conde Lab as a PhD student in Biomedicine and will be working on the synthesis and characterization of hybrid nanoparticles and hydrogels for local therapy of breast cancer, as well as on the evaluation of the therapeutic efficacy and the profiling of tumour heterogeneity.

jhenifer.oliveira@nms.unl.pt

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Pedro Ribeiro, MSc

        Pedro Ribeiro graduated in Biochemistry at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon in 2018. At the same faculty, he obtained a Master's degree in Medical Biochemistry. His dissertation project consisted of evaluating the differences in extracellular vesicles derived from the liver in different metabolic states and was performed with the Medir Lab group in Nova Medical School Research, under the supervision of Doctor Rita Machado de Oliveira. Recently, Pedro started the PhD in Biomedicine, continuing the extracellular vesicles project developed in the master’s degree but now with a translational research aspect by including nanoparticles as a therapeutic perspective, under the supervision of Professor João Conde.

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pedro.ribeiro@nms.unl.pt

Master Students

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Mariana Pereira, BSc

      Mariana Pereira, graduated in Biochemistry from the University of Algarve, is currently doing a Master's degree in Oncobiology - Molecular Mechanisms of Cancer at the same institution. Mariana became interested in cancer because it is a disease in which the cells of our organism acquire unique and specific properties and where proliferation mechanisms are severely compromised. Thus, her goal is to achieve a career in scientific research in the development of new diagnostic approaches and cancer treatments for each patient.
Recently, she joined Conde nanolab as a Master's student and will be working on the synthesis of nanoparticles for local therapy of breast cancer, as well as the evaluation of therapeutic efficacy and profile of tumor heterogeneity.

mariana.pereira@nms.unl.pt

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Marta Santos, BSc

      Marta Santos earned a degree in Materials Engineering Sciences from NOVA School of Science and Technology|FCT NOVA University in 2021 and  chose  to  pursue  a  master's  in  Biomaterials  and  Nanomedicine  at  the  same institution in collaboration with Nova Medical School, Conde NanoLab. Marta has a keen interest in studying how Nanotechnology may be used to treat diseases that have few or no effective treatmentslike cancer. 

Marta is also curious about how  some  biomaterials  might  be  used  in  Nanotechnology  for  the  aforementioned objectives.

marta.castro.santos@nms.unl.pt

Research Scholar

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João Ravasco, PhD

      João M. Ravasco received his M. Pharma from the Faculty of Pharmacy of the University of Lisbon (FFUL). In 2022, he finished his PhD at iMed.ULisboa under the supervision of Prof. Carlos A. M. Afonso and Dr. Alexandre Trindade. During his PhD, João has been studying the reactivity profile and designing controllable bioorthogonal tools for bioconjugation and controlled drug delivery. For such purpose, he has also established comprehensive multivariate AI models predicting the efficacy of gold-standard bioorthogonal cycloadditions in biological systems. Currently, he is interested in developing multifunctional systems for cancer therapy and profiling and he is developing new therapies for pancreatic cancer using biomimetic micelles under the FCT Grant PTDC/BTM-MAT/4738/2020.

joao.ravasco@nms.unl.pt

External PhD Students

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Diana Peixoto, MSc

      Diana Peixoto completed the Integrated Master in Pharmaceutical Sciences at Faculty of Pharmacy of the University of Coimbra (Portugal) in 2020. Currently, Diana is a PhD Student under the supervision of Prof. Carmen Alvarez-Lorenzo from the University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain), Prof. Ana Cláudia Paiva-Santos from the University of Coimbra (Portugal), and Prof. João Conde from the NOVA Medical School (Portugal), with a PhD scholarship from the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (2021.05914.BD, ranked fifth place among 89 applications submitted). Her passion for scientific research has been the driving force behind her academic and professional choices. Diana has chosen this path due to the vastness of unsolved questions in the medical and health sciences fields, particularly the ones related to cancer. Thereby, her research interests are related to the nanomedicine field, especially in the study of innovative nanotechnological approaches for cancer treatment. Currently, Diana working on Pancreatic Cancer-targeted nano-based, multimodal, and biomimetic strategies for improved therapeutics.

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João Pais, MSc

      João Pais has a Master in Biotechnology from the University of Beira Interior (Faculty of Health Sciences). His dissertation focused in the development of a lab platform to biosynthesize and purify a recombinant macromolecule, a protein of interest in the prostate cancer therapeutic, developed at the Health Sciences Research Center (CICS), at University of Beira Interior. After that, he worked for two years as research fellow in the Neurologic and Neurovascular Disorders research group, also at CICS. During that period, he focused in the study of the structure and function of a therapeutic target for ischemic stroke. Joao gathered experience in molecular biology, protein synthesis and purification, cell culture and cell isolation. Joao is pursuing his PhD in chemical engineering and will be working in the development of bio-based formulations for the stabilization of mRNA vaccines, allowing preservation with no need of a cold chain, contributing to a universal distribution by overcoming their instability at room temperature.

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Alazne Moreno, MSc

      Alazne Moreno graduated in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the Rovira and Virgili University (Tarragona, Spain) in 2018. She obtained her Master´s degree in Biomedicine, in the specialty of basic and translational research in cancer, in the University of Barcelona (Spain) in 2019. During bachelor and master studies, Alazne gained interest in the study of molecular mechanisms underlying different types of cancer progression. Currently, Alazne is a PhD student in IDIBAPS/Hospital Clinic and the University of Barcelona (Spain) under the supervision of Dr. Pedro Melgar-Lesmes and Prof. Wladimiro Jiménez, with a pre-doctoral contract from the Spanish Government (FPI). Her research project focuses on the use of carbon-based nanoparticles (graphene and graphite nanoparticles) to target liver cells to boost fibrosis resolution and hepatic regeneration, both in cirrhosis and liver cancer. She has recently joined Conde Lab as an external PhD student to conduct a project on new materials for the treatment of liver cancer with a grant from the Spanish Association for the Study of the Liver (AEEH).

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Leonardo Di Fillipo, MSc

      Leonardo D. Di Filippo holds a bachelor degree in Pharmacy-Biochemistry (2019) from the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the São Paulo State University (UNESP, Brazil). At the same institution, he obtained a master's degree (2021) and is currently a PhD student enrolled in the postgraduate program in Pharmaceutical Sciences, where he is developing nanostructured formulations for intranasal administration of anti-neoplastic drugs as an alternative for the treatment of brain cancer. His main areas of expertise include pharmaceutical technology, active targeting of nanoparticles, and in vivo models of brain cancer.

Alumni

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Rajendra Prasad, PhD

Now @Tufts University, Boston US

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Cristina Volpini

PhD Student at Università degli Studi di Pavia

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Joana Amorim, MSc

Now @FCT-NOVA

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Alessia Privitera

MSc Student at Università degli Studi di Pavia

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