Where Ideas grow

Symposium MCbiology Ph.D. | 5th Edition

The Secret Life of the Cell

22nd November 2018 | i3S, Corino de Andrade Auditorium





Isn’t it amazing that, after hundreds and hundreds of years studying life and compiling tons of knowledge, we still know so little about it? It is almost like cells have a secret life that we still couldn’t decode. But, what if the answer is already there? What if we only need to look at all we know and take it together?

With this year’s edition of the Annual Symposium, the students of the MCBiology Ph.D. Programme plan to join leading experts and students from completely different areas of research in life sciences in a one-day event where the star is the cell.

The 3rd Annual MCBiology Symposium “The secret life of the cell” will take place at i3S - Institute for Innovation and Health Research) on November 22nd. We hope that the programme we are preparing promotes the proper environment to stimulate the exchange of experiences between young scientists and leading experts and among the different areas of biological sciences.


Please, register in the symposium until 31 October. Let’s uncover the secret life of the cell together!


Organizing Committee

MCBiology PhD students: Ana Nascimento | Ana Gonçalves | Andreia Oliveira | Carla Bezerra | Carolina Barroso | Joana Rodrigues | Joana Teixeira | João Moreira | José Leite | Marco Cruz | Marcos Cardoso | Margarida Moura | Marta Duque | Monika Vilares | Sónia Henriques | Steeve Lima



The MCBiology Ph.D. Program, which the main objective is to provide advanced practical and theoretical training in Molecular and Cellular Biology, is jointly organized by ICBAS (Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar), FCUP (Faculty of Sciences of the University of Porto) and IBMC (Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology).

The program provides the students the knowledge, as well as the intellectual and technical skills, necessary in academic or industrial research. Currently, in its fifth edition, it focuses on the hallmarks of molecular and cellular biology to stimulate progress and innovation in life sciences.


08:30 – 09:00 Registration


09:00 – 9:15 Opening speech

Claudio Sunkel, i3S, IBMC



Chair: Paula Tamagnini, i3S, IBMC


9:15 – 10:00 Engineering Cyanobacteria for Direct Chemical Production

Peter Lindblad, University of Uppsala, Sweden


10:00 – 10:45 MCbiology student’s presentations


The role of the tyrosine kinase Wzc (Sll0923) and the phosphatase Wzb (Slr0328) in the production of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) by Synechocystis PCC 6803

Marina Santos, Bioengineering & Synthetic Microbiology Group


Role and Molecular Mechanism of an ECF56 Sigma Factor

Rute Oliveira, Bioengineering & Synthetic Microbiology Group


Idioblast cells accumulating bioactive alkaloids in Catharanthus roseus: understanding metabolic specialization

Joana Guedes, Yeast Signalling Networks Group


10:45 – 11:15 Coffee break



Chair: João H. Morais-Cabral, i3S, IBMC


11:15 – 12:00 Protein structures "in crystallo" and "in vivo": do they match? Are they useful?

Richard Engh, University of Tromsø, Norway


12:00 – 12:45 MCbiology student’s presentations


Molecular determinants of the activation mechanism of a RCK domain

Celso Duarte, Structural Biochemistry Group


Mycobacterium tuberculosis modulates lung glycosylation profile with an impact on the infection outcome

Kaori Fonseca, Immune Regulation Group


Inside-out mechanisms of CD6 signaling: cytoplasmic and extracellular interactions impact on T cell activation

Rita F. Santos, Cell Activation & Gene Expression Group


12:45 – 14:00: Lunch break



Chair: Hélder Maiato, i3S, IBMC


14:00 – 15:00 Centrosomes in Development and Disease

Mónica Bettencourt-Dias, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Portugal


15:00 – 15:45 MCbiology student’s presentations


FoxM1 inhibition-driven aging signature in cancer cells improves sensitivity to anti-mitotic chemotherapeutics

Sara Vaz, Ageing and Aneuploidy Group


Transthyretin-induced cytoskeleton remodelling: a double-edged sword

Jéssica Eira, Nerve Regeneration Group


Non-coding repeat insertion and RNA-mediated neurodegeneration

Joana Loureiro, Genetics of Cognitive Dysfunction Group


15:45 – 17:30 Coffee break and Poster Session



Chair: Alexandra Moreira, i3S, IBMC


17:30 – 18:15 Restricting the extent of transcription across the mammalian genome to prevent the formation of pathological RNA

Nicholas Proudfoot, University of Oxford, United Kingdom


18:15 – 18:30 Closing session

Paula Tamagnini, i3S, IBMC



Mónica Bettencourt-Dias

Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Lisbon, Portugal

Mónica Bettencourt-Dias is the director of Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC), Portugal. She obtained her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, from the University College London, in 2001. She then became a research associate at the University of Cambridge, where she investigated cell cycle regulation and centrosome biogenesis in Drosophila. Simultaneously, she did a 2-year diploma in Science Communication at the Birkbeck College in London. Bettencourt-Dias started her independent research group at the IGC in 2006. Since then she and her lab have won a variety of grants and prizes, including an EMBO Installation Grant, membership to the EMBO Young Investigator Programme, an ERC starting grant in 2010 and an ERC consolidator grant in 2015. Her research group uses multidisciplinary approaches to understand how centrioles and cilia are assembled and maintained in the context of development, disease, and evolution.




Nicholas Proudfoot

University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Nicholas Proudfoot is a renowned molecular biologist who has made significant contributions to the field of mRNA processing in eukaryotes. He started his scientific career in 1973 at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB), University of Cambridge, where he discovered the AAUAAA poly(A) signal as a graduate student. As a postdoctoral fellow, he studied the globin gene families, first at the LMB and then with Tom Maniatis at the California Institute of Technology and Harvard University. Proudfoot started his lab in 1981 at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, as a Lecturer and then Professor. He was also a Fellow and Tutor in Biochemistry at Brasenose College. He has been an EMBO member since 1982 and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2005. His research group studies the transcriptional termination in eukaryotes, focusing on the molecular mechanisms of RNA polymerase II termination.




Peter Lindblad

Uppsala University Sweden

Peter Lindblad is Professor of Microbial chemistry (2009) at Uppsala University. Originally educated as a teacher, he took his Ph.D. in physiological botany at Uppsala University (1987) and then carried out post-doctoral studies in Western Australia and in New York financed by the Swedish Natural Science Research Council (NFR). This was followed by Research Associate (1989) and Research Fellow (1991) positions, both at Uppsala University and both financed by NFR. His research explores the conversion of solar energy into a biofuel, focusing on microalgal based H2-production and hydrogenases at applied, physiological, biochemical and molecular levels - in total about 170 scientific publications. He and his research group are using different molecular and genetic techniques with a focus on traditional and novel technologies to address transcriptional regulation and regulatory mechanisms. In the last years, strong interests for Synthetic biology and the possibilities to custom design, construct and engineer microbial cells to carry out novel pathways and functions have emerged. The overall goal is to develop novel photosynthetic cell factories producing solar fuels directly from solar energy, air and water.




Richard Engh

University of Tromsø, Norway

Prof. Engh began studying mathematics, physics, and chemistry, choosing physical chemistry for graduate studies at the University of Chicago, where his thesis advisor Graham Fleming awakened a lifelong fascination with the amazing biophysical properties of evolved proteins. This evolved into twenty years of studies of protein modeling and crystallography with Nobel Laureate Robert Huber at the Max-Planck-Institute in Martinsried, first as a postdoctoral scientist, then as director of protein-ligand structure studies in collaboration with industry (Boehringer Mannheim, Roche). In 2006, he accepted a professorship at the University of Tromsø, home to the Norwegian Structural Biology Center. Currently, his research focusses on protein kinases and their role in disease and drug discovery.






Registration is free, but mandatory until 16 November 2018.