Where Ideas Grow

Raquel Seruca awarded the ACTIVA Inspiring Women prize

Researcher Raquel Seruca, leader of the «Epithelial Interactions in Cancer» group at the i3S and vice-president of Ipatimup, was recognized with the ACTIVA Inspiring Women Award 2021 for coordinating the i3S application, within the scope of the Porto Comprehensive Cancer Center (P.CCC) consortium, to the  Norte 2020 funds. The funding that was won is intended to bring research and clinical practice closer to the benefit of cancer patients.

The funding, in excess of 15 million euros, will allow Porto Comprehensive Cancer Center (P.CCC), a consortium that brings together the Portuguese Institute of Oncology of Porto (IPO Porto) and i3S, to implement the research project “TeamUp4Cancer”, over the next two years. The researchers in the project will seek to develop in vitro experimental models to assist in patient care, validate and explore new biomarkers in tumor tissues, blood, and other tissue samples and accelerate pre-clinical studies, facilitating the transition to clinical studies of early stage.

“It is the first time in Portugal that we will be able to follow the entire cycle that goes from the identification of altered mechanisms in tumor cells to clinical trials based on in-depth knowledge of the molecular and cellular processes underlying the disease. It is a unique opportunity to do science with clinical impact on cancer patients”, explained Raquel Seruca.

About Raquel Seruca
Raquel Seruca loves what she does and, above all, is very proud of the people she works with. “My team is fantastic”, she says over and over again. In the publication “Mulheres na Ciência”, launched by Ciência Viva, the researcher wrote about what Science represents in her life: “It occupies my real and imaginary space, transforms every day into a journey without time and gives each one of them a colorful flavor. Science has allowed me to find people who make me happy and help me honor the chance of moments”.

Having graduated and gained a PhD from FMUP, Raquel Seruca was a research fellow at the Department of Human Genetics at the University of Groningen, Netherlands, before starting her PhD with pathologist Manuel Sobrinho Simões. She has more than 260 published scientific articles, having published in the most prestigious scientific journals, such as the New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet Oncology, and Human Molecular Genetics. In addition to being awarded several times by the Portuguese Society of Human Genetics, she won the Benjamin Castelman Award from USCAP in 2001 and 2012, the Labmed Prize in 2002 and 2003, and received the insignia of Grand Officer of the Order of Infante D. Henrique in 2009. In 2014, Porto City Council awarded her the Gold Medal of Scientific Merit.

She is internationally recognized in the field of gastric cancer genetics and is considered a world expert in cancer cell invasion, namely in gastric cancer and colon cancer. In 2015, the team she leads received an award from the American association that supports families with gastric cancer, “No Stomach For Cancer”. This funding was renewed in 2017 and in 2021 the team was once again recognized by this association. Currently Raquel Seruca is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of this patient association and for 20 years her team has been offering a free global service for functional screening of E-Cadherin gene alterations that are identified in the germ line in families with this type of cancer.

About the ACTIVA Inspiring Women Awards
The ACTIVA Inspiring Women Awards recognize the women who over the last year have stood out as Inspiring Women in six different areas: Arts, Science, Sports, Business, Solidarity, and Sustainability. A Career Award is also given.

The choice of the 2021 nominees and winners was the responsibility of ACTIVA magazine and a prestigious jury, consisting of: Conceição Zagalo, Luís Marques Mendes, Mafalda Anjos, and Maria de Belém. And the winners were: Lúcia Moniz - Arts Award; Raquel Seruca – Science Award; Patrícia Mamona – Sports Award; Joana Rafael - Business Award; Margarida Cruz – Solidarity Award; Margarida Couto - Sustainability Award. The Career Award was given to Leonor Beleza.