creating a
healthier future

10th McBiology Symposium

18-19 April 2024 | i3S, Porto, Portugal

Embarking on its 10th milestone, the Molecular and Cell Biology Symposium celebrates "A Decade Building Science."

Crafted by the students from the Doctoral Program in Molecular and Cell Biology, this event takes place on April 18th and 19th, 2024, at the i3S - Institute for Research & Innovation in Health in Porto, Portugal.

Immerse yourself in the symphony of knowledge as esteemed national and international speakers delve into i3S's key research domains: Cancer, Host Interaction and Response, and Neurobiology and Neurologic Disorders. Join us for outstanding lectures and poster sessions presented by the brilliant minds of MCBiology PhD students.

Let's unite once again for a celebration of a decade dedicated to the pursuit of scientific excellence.

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The symposium will be held at i3S – Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde.
Rua Alfredo Allen, 208; 4200-135 Porto, Portugal
Tel: +351 226 074 900 | E-mail:
GPS coordinates: 41º 10’ 30.008’’ N, 8º 36’ 12.488’’ W.


Organizing Committe
Alexandre Rodrigues Coelho
Bruno Diogo Dias Ribeiro
Carlos Daniel Vilaça Sousa Soares
Daniela Silva Felício
Diogo Ferreira Lucas
Estefânia Coelho Carvalho
Francisco Maria Granchinho Bicho Tavares Cadete
Inês Cardial Mendes Dias
Joana Isabel Carvalho Azevedo
Jorge Alexandre Ferreira Matinha Cardoso
Lídia Maria Pereira Faria
Manuel António Moreira Correia
Maria Carolina Antunes Pereira
Ricardo Jorge Vieira Soares
Rute Daniela Matos Gonçalves
Xuwen Zeng

External Commission
Peter Lindblad

Peter Lindblad holds a PhD in Physiological botany from Uppsala University (UU, 1987), did PostDoctoral research in Australia and USA before returning to UU where he was promoted to professor in Biology 2000. In 2009 he moved to Chemistry where he leads Microbial chemistry, a concentrated effort to explore the biotechnological potential of cyanobacteria from fundamentals to applications. Present R&D focus is on cyanobacteria for sustainable production of chemicals, including fuels, from CO2 and solar energy in direct processes. This includes e.g. photosynthetic butanol production, increased CO2-fixation, efficient H2 production and the development of synthetic consortia. Professor Lindblad has published over 230 papers in peer-reviewed journals and is/was a partner or coordinator in several EU Framework supported projects such as PhotoSynH2, Promicon, Photofuel, CyanoFactory, BioModularH2, Solar-H2 and Solar-H.


Cord Brakebusch

Cord Brakebusch Biotech Research and Innovation Center (BRIC), University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Cord Brakebusch received his M.SC. in Biochemistry in 1989 at the University of Hannover in Germany and performed his Ph.D. work at the Weizmann Institute of Science,Rehovot, Israel. Following postdocs at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Martinsried, Germany he became 1998 assistant Professor at Lund University, Lund, Sweden and 2002 a Heisenberg Group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Martinsried, Germany. 2006 Cord Brakebusch joined the University of Copenhagen as a Professor. He assumed the Directorship of the University’s Transgenic Animal Core Facility in 2006 and since 2007 he has been a Group leader of Biotech Research and Innovation Centre (BRIC), at the University of Copenhagen.
Dr. Brakebusch’s active research areas are the role of Rho GTPase signaling in development and disease using genetically modified mice. Rho GTPase signaling is regulating multiple important cellular functions including cell migration, cell polarity and cell proliferation and work by the Brakebusch group revealed novel roles for example in skin inflammation and skin tumor.
Dr. Brakebusch received an Assistant Professor Fellowship from the Swedish Research Council, 1999-2001, and a Heisenberg Fellowship from the German Research Council from 2002-2005.
Hirsch factor 73; average citation per item 60.5; 15 061 citations (Web of Science).
BRIC - Biotech Research & Innovation Centre, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark:
Brakebusch Group:


Day 1- Thursday, 18th April

13h00- 13h30: Registration
13h30- 14h00: Opening session | Cláudio Sunkel
14h00- 15h00: Adriana Sánchez Dánes | Uncovering the mechanisms that drive cancer formation in adult and paediatric tissues
15h10- 15h25: Development of complex in vitro models of mycobacterial infection for drug screening | Clara Bento
15h25- 15h40: Disentangling inflammasome activation and metabolic reprogramming in Mycobacterium tuberculosis infected macrophages | Ana Isabel Fernandes
15h40- 15h55: Absence of RfbC and FucS on the extracellular polysaccharides of Synechocystis | João Pissarra
16h00- 16h20: Coffee break
16h20- 17h20: Thomas Haarmann-Stemmann | Cutaneous aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) signaling and its relevance for environmentally-induced skin diseases
17h20- 17h30: Sponsor talk | SPI- Sociedade Portuguesa de Inovação
17h30- 18h30: Round table | What happens after your PhD? A conversation with former MCBiology PhD students
18h30: Closure


Day 2- Friday, 19th April

09h30- 10h30: Christa Rhiner | Unravelling injury-driven circuits of stem cell activation
10h30- 11h00: Coffee break
11h00- 11h15: Tension-driven growth triggers developmental stage-specific adaptations of the axonal cytoskeleton and membrane | Sara Sousa
11h15- 11h30: Hot-wiring dynein-2 establishes roles for IFT-A in retrograde train assembly and motility | Ana de Castro
11h30- 11h45: Neurodevelopmental phenotype in SCA37 transient zebrafish model | Ana Filipa Castro
11h45- 11h55: Sponsor talk | SPGH- Sociedade Portuguesa de Genética Humana
12h00- 13h00: Anne Ephrussi | A journey to the pole: RNA transport in a large polarized cell
13h00- 14h00: Lunch time (not provided)
14h00- 15h30: Poster session
15h30- 15h45: A novel adaptor for the microtubule motor dynein regulates ER organization | Vanessa Teixeira
15h45- 16h00: Unravelling the role of Heparan Sulfate patterns in tumor cells aggressive behavior | Catarina Marques
16h00- 16h15: Mechanism and Function of Anaphase A in Mammals | Elias Weiler
16h15- 16h30: The protective role of cell extrinsic Nrf2 in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation with iron overload | Joana Reis
16h30- 16h40: Sponsor talk | MDPI
16h40- 17h00: Closing remarks | Paula Tamagnini
17h00: Chill out


Adriana Sánchez-Danés

Adriana Sánchez-Danés received her BSc degree in Biotechnology from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain). In 2012, she obtained her PhD in Biomedicine (cum laude distinction) from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona. Her thesis work focused on modeling Parkinson’s Disease in vitro.
In 2012, Adriana moved to the Université Libre de Brussels to the laboratory of Prof. Cédric Blanpain (Belgium). During this period she investigated the most common human cancer, the basal cell carcinoma. Adriana identified the specific cell type from which this skin cancer arises and the cancer cell population that resists upon therapy, leading to tumor relapse.
In October 2019, Adriana started her own lab at the Champalimaud Foundation, which is focussed on uncovering the biology of solid paediatric cancers with the aim of developing novel therapeutic approaches for paediatric cancer patients.
Adriana has been recently awarded with the Maratona da Saude Junior Award and AstraZeneca awards.


Anne Ephrussi

Anne Ephrussi is a French-American molecular, cellular and developmental biologist. She is Emerita Senior Scientist, Group Leader and Director of the EMBL International Centre for Advanced Training at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). Anne received her Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Harvard University in 1979. She obtained her PhD in Biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1985, for her work on the immunoglobulin heavy chain enhancer, in the laboratory of Susumu Tonegawa. As a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Ruth Lehmann at the Whitehead Institute at MIT, she cloned the Drosophila maternal effect gene oskar and showed that the localized oskar mRNA is locally translated, and that Oskar protein induces germ cell formation in the embryo. She joined the EMBL as group leader in 1992.
During three decades Anne’s group studied mechanisms and functions of RNA localization and translational control, using Drosophila as a model. Combining genetic perturbations, biochemistry, structural biology, and high-resolution imaging, they unraveled molecular and cellular processes leading to functional polarization of cells. RNA transport and local translation are conserved across species, and RNA dysregulation is the cause of many neurological diseases; Drosophila is an ideal model for mechanistic dissection such fundamental processes.
Anne was Head of EMBL’s Developmental Biology Unit (2007-2021) and Director of the EMBL International Center for Advanced Training (2005-2023). An active member of the international scientific community, she serves on numerous evaluation and advisory committees. Anne received the Society for Developmental Biology’s Lifetime Achievement Award (2023), the FEBS|EMBO Women in Science Award (2024), and is an elected member of the French Académie des Sciences (2008) and of the US National Academy of Sciences (2022).


Christa Rhiner

Christa Rhiner received her Master degree in 2012 from the University of Bern, Switzerland, following a Master thesis in the lab of Prof. Adriano Aguzzi at the University Hospital in Zurich. She then entered the International Neuroscience PhD program of the ETH/University of Zurich (UZH) and joined the lab of Prof. Michael O. Hengartner to work on axon guidance signaling in C. elegans. Apart from her PhD, she also obtained a degree in science communication from the Institute for Applied Media Studies.
For her postdoctoral studies (2007-2010), she moved to the group of Dr. Eduardo Moreno at the National Cancer Center (CNIO) in Madrid and studied novel factors mediating cell competition in Drosophila and mice. In 2011, Christa joined the Institute of Cell Biology in Bern as lecturer and investigator where she worked on neuronal fitness and established Drosophila as a model to study brain regenerative processes. In 2017, she started her own group at the Champalimaud Center in Lisbon focusing on brain repair responses.


Thomas Haarmann-Stemmann

Thomas Haarmann-Stemmann is a toxicologist and photobiologist keen to understand the molecular mechanisms by which environmental stressors of global concern, ranging from airborne particulate matter and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons to UV radiation, damage human skin and cause disease. He has studied biology at the Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf and afterwards joined the IUF - Leibniz-Research Institute for Environmental Medicine to conduct his PhD thesis. In parallel, he participated in the postgraduate study program Toxicology of the German Society for Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology (DGPT). He received his PhD in 2007 and one year later became head of a junior research group at IUF, focusing on the functional role of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) in UV radiation-induced cutaneous stress responses. In 2011 and 2012, he was approved as Certified Toxicologist DGPT and European-Registered Toxicologist (Eurotox), respectively. Since 2016, Thomas is leading the working group AHR-Signaling & environmentally-induced skin damage at IUF. In 2017, he was appointed adjunct associate professor of the Medical Faculty at Nagoya City University in Nagoya, Japan. In 2020, he habilitated in toxicology to become a “Privatdozent” (equiv. to associate professor). Since January 2024, he is an elected board member of the European Society for Photodermatology.



Round table speakers

Tatiana Cereija
Junior researcher - Structural Biochemistry group (i3S)

I became attracted about the connection between protein structure and function while a BSc student. After concluding my BSc, I joined the research group of Pedro Pereira (IBMC, Porto, Portugal) to work on the characterization of thrombin inhibitors and where I performed my MSc project. The lack of funding in the group was an opportunity to join the Biofilm group (CEB, Braga, Portugal) focused on classical microbiology approaches, that gave me an in vivo perspective of biological problems and where I acquired new set of skills. Keeping the focus on structural biology, I moved to i3S (Porto, Portugal) after enrolling in the 1st edition of MCBiology doctoral program and being awarded with FCT PhD studentship to perform my doctoral research in the characterization of mycobacterial enzymes, under supervision of Pedro Pereira (i3S) and Nuno Empadinhas (CNC, Coimbra, Portugal). During this period, I had the opportunity to perform experiments at CNC, synchrotron radiation facilities (ESRF and SOLEIL, France; ALBA, Spain), and IGBMC (France). I finished my PhD in 2018 with a strong background in X-ray crystallography and in structural biology in general. For my postdoc, I wanted to continue in the field of structural biology. I joined the research group of João Cabral (i3S) in 2018 to study membrane-associated proteins, using functional, biochemical and structural approaches. Importantly, I have been learning and applying single particle cryo-electron microcopy to my research project, which involves visits to the Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology Institute. In the scope of my research I was awarded a EMBO Scientific Exchange Grant (2022) and a SPBf Young Biophysicist Prize (2022).


Catarina Meireles
Head of i3S Flow Cytometry Facility

Catarina Meireles holds a Bachelor's degree from Escola Superior de Biotecnologia, Universidade Católica do Porto, and a Master's degree in Molecular Genetics from Universidade do Minho. She obtained her PhD in McBiology from ICBAS, UP, focusing on thymic epithelial cell differentiation under the supervision of Nuno Alves at IBMC/i3S. Her doctoral thesis, "Refining Thymic Epithelial Cell Differentiation: From Progenitor Cell Isolation to the Identification of Discrete Mature Lineages," underscores her expertise in the field.
Since 2016, Catarina has served as the head of the Translational Cytometry platform at i3S. In this role, based at the Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde (i3S) in Porto, she leads innovative research endeavors and spearheads collaborations to advance scientific understanding. She also serves as the Coordinator of Portuguese Flow Cytometry (PT-FlowCyt), demonstrating her commitment to fostering scientific communities.
Catarina's expertise are evidenced by her involvement in numerous workshops, seminars, and scientific meetings. Her dedication to scientific communication and collaboration is reflected in her role as an invited speaker and organizer of various scientific events.


Rute Oliveira
i3S Diagnostics

Rute Oliveira is a member of the i3S Diagnostics laboratory, with a mission of translating science into clinical solutions to diagnose infectious diseases. She graduated in Biology by the University of Porto, has an MSc from the University of Minho, and a PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Porto, with work developed at the i3S and at the John Innes Centre, UK. For many years, Rute contributed to fundamental research by studying the transcriptional control of bacterial responses to oxidative stress. Changing a long-standing paradigm, she found that bacterial SnoaL2-sigma factors are not orphan as originally predicted, but work with cognate anti-sigma repressors. She described a novel sigma factor and the corresponding cascades it activates, and co-authored the crystal structure of the sigma bound to its repressor. She also found the upstream trigger signal for the system, bringing the picture to full circle. During her PhD, Rute actively advocated for improved postgraduate training policies at i3S as representative of PhD students, having worked on the establishment of PhD advisory boards at i3S, the organisation of individual PhD candidate seminars and of the 1st PhDay.
During the 2020 pandemic, she volunteered for the COVID-19 task force and participated in the establishment of the i3S COVID-19 Testing Centre, directly impacting patient care within the NHS. Rute was invited for 2 secondments at the medical industry, having worked as lab supervisor at the COVID-19 lab in Basel, Switzerland. Recognising the need for faster and precise diagnostics, after returning to Porto, Rute committed to the development of the new i3S diagnostics centre for infectious diseases. She works at the i3S Diagnostics laboratory to accelerate diagnosis and multidrug-resistant pathogen surveillance with NGS-based clinical assays for pathogen characterisation, actively pursuing new partnerships with clinicians and other stakeholders to set up disease surveillance protocols for improved outbreak preparedness and antimicrobial stewardship.


Marina Silva
Junior researcher - Nerve Regeneration group (i3S)

I have graduated in Biochemistry by the University of Minho in 2013 and finished a master degree in Biochemistry at the University of Porto in 2015. During my masters I started my neuroscientist career within a project developed at IBMC (supervision of Márcia Liz and Carla Lopes), in the context of the neurogenerative disorder Transthyretin Amyloid Polyneuropathy (ATTR-PN) (Sci Rep 2020, 1st author; Best Poster award - XIV Meeting of the Portuguese Society for Neuroscience 2015). My growing interest in neurosciences encouraged me to pursue a PhD (2017-2021). I obtained a scholarship through a competitive call from FCT (SFRH/BD/118728/2016) to develop my PhD thesis under the supervision of Márcia Liz (Neurodegeneration Team, Nerve Regeneration Group, IBMC/i3S, Porto) and co-supervision of Tiago Outeiro (University Medical Center Göttingen, Germany) and James Bamburg (Colorado State University, USA). My PhD project focused on actin cytoskeleton dysfunction in the context of PD with cognitive impairment (1st author: Front Cell Dev Biol 2020; Cell Death Dis 2024, under revision). During my PhD, I received a FLAD R&D@PhD fellowship allowing me a 4-month stay in James Bamburg’s lab (JoVe 2017 co-author) and was supported by the Portugal-Germany Science Cooperation Programme (FCT-DAAD) to work in Tiago Outeiro’s laboratory. Following my PhD, in 2022 I had a junior researcher contract supported by Creative Bio-Peptides Inc. to support the research in the context of CCR5 involvement in PD. In 2023, I received support from a Pfizer-funded grant, during which I worked on implementing the generation of neurons from iPS cells within the context of FAP. Currently, I am leading a project funded by a Pfizer’s Global Medical Grants and starting a 6-year Junior Researcher contract from FCT.


Diogo Silvério
Application Specialist - Enzifarma

Diogo Silvério graduated in Biology in 2014, and completed his master’s degree in Biodiversity, Genetics and Evolution in 2016, both at Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade do Porto. During his master’s thesis, he worked at CIBIO, inserted in the IMED group, under the supervision of Joana Abrantes. There, he uncovered new recombination events in the RHDV strains circulating in wild rabbits in Portugal. In 2024, he obtained his PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology at Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel Salazar, having worked at the Immune Regulation group in i3S, under the supervision of Margarida Saraiva. His PhD project focused on the host-pathogen immune interactions in Mycobacterium tuberculosis infections, namely on the role of IL-1R in the host immune defense against M. tuberculosis, which was presented at several national and international conferences. Currently, he works as an application specialist at Enzifarma, focusing on cellular and molecular biology, as well as in single cell multiomics.


Joana Teixeira
Junior Researcher - Vertebrate Development and Regeneration group (i3S)

I am a postdoctoral researcher at the Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde of the University of Porto. My research interests lie in understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying diseases associated with non-coding traits. Using a combination of genome editing, cell biology, and bioinformatic tools, I aim to elucidate the role of non-coding DNA sequences in the cis-regulation process and their contribution to human diseases. In 2022, I completed my PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Porto. During my PhD, I investigated the impact of disrupting pancreatic cis-regulatory elements (CREs) on the development of pancreatic cancer (PC). By analyzing histone modifications, transcription, chromatin accessibility, and interactions, I identified zebrafish pancreas CREs and their human functional equivalents. This work led to the discovery of disease-associated sequences across species, including potential PC-associated CREs. Our findings were published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications, and I presented them at four oral communications in national and international conferences. Throughout my academic career, I have contributed to several publications as a first author, including those in Current Pharmacogenomics and Personalized Medicine, Environmental Microbiology Reports, and Medical Microbiology and Immunology. Additionally, I have co-authored papers in Cell Reports, European Journal of Public Health, and Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal. Currently, I am co-supervising a PhD student and a Master student, and in 2021, I co-supervised a BSc Erasmus student.


Ana Rita Gomes
Final year PhD student - Stem Cells in Regenerative Biology and Repair group (i3S)

Rita N. Gomes majored in Bioengineering (Molecular Biotechnology) from FEUP/ICBAS – UP in 2017. During her MSc, Rita did an Erasmus+ Internship in London in QMUL developing work in white matter injury. Rita developed her MSc thesis in antimicrobial graphene coatings at i3S under the supervision of Dr. Inês Gonçalves.
Rita has joined the Stem Cells in Regenerative Biology and Repair group at i3S as an MSc research fellow in 2018 and began her PhD in MCBiology in 2020 under the supervision of Dr. Diana S. Nascimento. The main goal of her PhD work is to unveil the role of the cardiac fibroblast in the context of neonatal heart regeneration.
Rita has 2 publications as a first author (1 original article and 1 review article) and 5 publications as co-author. She has presented several poster and oral communications during her PhD, 2 of which have been awarded with prizes.


Steeve Lima
Advanced Consultant / Quality & Compliance Engineer in Life Sciences - Capgemini Engineering

Since earlier, Steeve has been amazed by subjects related to Microbial Biotechnology and their endless opportunities to impact the world. Thus, he decided to pursue a Life Sciences academic education. Specialist in Molecular and Cell Biology (BSc in Biology - FCUP; MSc in Cell and Molecular Biology - FCUP, and PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology – ICBAS/i3S). Also worked as a Medical Laboratory Assistant at the Department of Microbiology in the Royal Stoke University Hospital (UHNM NHS Trust - UK).
Currently working for the Pharmaceutical Industry. Quality & Compliance, Computerized System Validation (CSV) and Project Management are topics that are being further explored and developed.
Besides, passionate about reading (fascinated about dystopian worlds), writing, storytelling, traveling, socializing and, last but not least, his first love, football.

Abstract Submission

The call for abstracts will be open until the 27th of March (notification of acceptance on 1st of April). Abstract submission is open for McBiology students and for Poster presentation only.

Abstracts should be structured according to the following template:

Abstract layout >>

Abstract submission form >>


Registration is free, but mandatory until 7th of March.

Registration includes participation in the event and certificate.




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More information:
Events Management Unit | Rua Alfredo Allen 208 | 4200-135 Porto, Portugal
Email: | Tel: +351 226 074 900