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In 2000, I received my Pharm.D. degree from the University of Lisbon, Portugal. During the same year, I enrolled in a doctoral program at the Karolinska Institute. My masters and doctoral studies focused on how oxygen levels mediate protein degradation of the hypoxia-inducible factors. These studies culminated in a Licentiate in 2005, and subsequently a Ph.D. in 2009, both in Cell and Molecular Biology.
Following my Ph.D., I continued at the Karolinska Institute as a postdoctoral fellow at the department of Clinical Neurosciences. During my postdoc, I investigated the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in neovascular age-related macular degeneration, a particularly incident sight-threatening disease. My research elucidated a central role for hypoxia-inducible factor-1alpha in this disease.
Since 2012, I have been assigned as Head of Molecular and Cellular Research at St Erik Eye Hospital, affiliated to the Karolinska Institute. My group is invested in understanding the mechanisms that lead to chronical upregulation of the hypoxia-inducible factors, which culminate in the pathologic formation of blood vessels in the eye, and ultimately vision impairment. Using a combination of cellular and animal models of age-related macular degeneration, some established by my group, we are mapping the hypoxia-inducible factors interatome in retinal cells and characterizing new regulatory molecules of the hypoxia pathway. We have demonstrated that negative regulation of the hypoxia-inducible transcription factors using gene therapy strategies significantly reduced the formation of blood vessels in animal models of neovascular age-related macular degeneration.
My present research is centered on cell-based and gene therapy strategies to target the hypoxia-inducible factors as potential therapeutic agents in ocular vascular diseases. These findings are deepened by collaboration with both basic and clinical researchers with the goal of translating my research into clinical treatment of patients with ocular neovascular sight-threatening diseases.