i3S researcher wins Crioestaminal Prize

Researcher Nuno Alves, leader of the group Thymus Development and Function, was the winner of the 10th Crioestaminal Prize in Biomedical Research. The award-winning project - "Identification of Thymic Epithelial Stem Cells in vivo" - focuses on the study of the thymus, the organ that specializes in the production of T cells that react against pathogens and are tolerant to body tissues.

This prize of 20 thousand euros, explains the researcher Nuno Alves, "will contribute to our fundamental research in the field of Immunology. The development of vaccines for the treatment of infectious diseases, cancer therapies, and the understanding of autoimmunity depend on the study of the mechanisms regulating the differentiation of T cells, which are a specialized type of white blood cells".

He adds "this funding will be channeled entirely into the study of the thymus, the organ responsible for T cell production". The thymus, says Nuno Alves, "has an almost magical ability to generate T cells, which are able to protect us from tumors and infections caused by pathogenic microorganisms, while being tolerant (harmless) against our own tissues. However, thymus function decreases with age, increasing our susceptibility to new infections or the development of autoimmunity". This award, continues the researcher, "will allow us to focus our studies on the molecular principles that regulate thymus functioning. Knowledge in this area is crucial to understanding the regulation of immunity and immune tolerance".

As for the fact that he was the winner of the 10th Crioestaminal Prize, Nuno Alves considers it an honor, since "it represents recognition of the work developed in our laboratory in recent years. It should be stressed that our studies would not be possible without the passion, effort and commitment of all members of the group, both current and former employees, so this prize naturally extends to them".

The 10th Crioestaminal Prize in Biomedical Research was also award to Rita Fior (from the Champalimaud Foundation) with the project "Molecular Mechanisms of Innate Immune Evasion and Recognition" and Susana Solá (from the Institute of Research of the Medicine of the University of Lisbon - iMed.ULisboa), with the project "Metabolic Control of Neural Repair by Diet and Gut Microbiome during Aging".

The Crioestaminal Prize in Biomedical Research, which results from the partnership between Crioestaminal and Associação Viver a Ciência, aims to award and support projects from young researchers of any nationality who have had a doctorate for between three and ten years, and who propose to to carry out an autonomous research project in the area of Biomedicine at a Portuguese institution.