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ERA chair


Programa ERA ChairDate: Mach 25, 2017

Local: Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de Coimbra, Sub-Unidade 3, Pólo III

Download the programme here.






The ERA Chair project focuses on stem cells as ageing disease modelling and therapeutic platforms. Stem cells are defined as having the capacity to both self-renew and give rise to differentiated cells.

The first hypothesis of the ERA Chair project is that stem cells, in particular induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), may be an excellent source of cells for disease modelling and drug discovery programs related to ageing diseases. The group aims at studying the ageing of vascular and cardiac tissues.

The second hypothesis of the ERA Chair project is that the modulation of endogenous stem cells may be a platform to fight ageing diseases, specifically in brain diseases. Nanomedicine will induce stem cell proliferation and subsequent differentiation to replace aged cells or damaged cells by ischemic processes. Thus, the aim of the project is to demonstrate the feasibility of using nanomedicine to initiate a regenerative program.





Lino Ferreira

Lino Ferreira is Coordinator Investigator (eq. Full Professor) at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Coimbra, after being selected for this position through the H2020 project “Enhancing Research in Ageing at University of Coimbra (ERA@UC)”. Beforehand, he was Coordinator Investigator at the Center of Neurosciences and Cell Biology, and the head of the Biomaterials and Stem Cell-Based Therapies research group. He holds a Ph.D. in Biotechnology (2003) from the University of Coimbra (Portugal). He did postdoctoral work at MIT (USA) in the laboratory of Professor Robert Langer in the areas of human embryonic stem cells, micro and nanotechnologies.

He joined the Center of Neurosciences and Cell Biology (CNC, University of Coimbra) and Biocant (Innovation Center, Portugal) in October 2007. He has published more than 80 peer reviewed papers and has 18 issued or pending patents– 9 of which have been licensed to companies in the biomedical industry. He has supervised more than 6 PhD thesis, he is the founder of 1 company (Matera) and his group contributed for the technology of a recent spin off (Exogenus Therapeutics). He is the CNC coordinator of the MIT-Portugal Program. In 2012 he was awarded with an European Research Council (ERC) starting grant. His research group has two main avenues of research: (i) development of bioengineering platforms to modulate the differentiation and maturation of stem cells and (ii) development of nanomedicine platforms to modulate the activity of stem cells and their progenies.


  Lino Ferreira



Luis Estronca

Luis Estronca is a senior researcher, has been studying the molecular mechanisms of Atherosclerosis – an “aging” disease. In 2008 he completed is PhD on Biological Chemistry at the University of Coimbra (UC), modulating the distribution of cholesterol as it occurs in vivo, and focusing on the anti-atherosclerotic capability of the sub-type of HDL as a new therapeutic strategy to avoid/retard the development of the disease. He has later worked as a Post-Doc at the Cell Biology in the Infection and Pathogens Group at the Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology (CNC), trying to understand the mechanism of the uncontrolled uptake of oxidized LDL by macrophages, and successfully developed a new LDL model. More recently he has been working at the Biomaterials and Stem Cell-Based Therapeutic research group (at CNC), in the stem cell and tissue engineering area to screen nanoformulations that might be important to fight arterosclerosis. 

  Luís Estronca




Arnab Banerjee

Arnab was born in 1986. He received his M.Sc degree from ISM University (now converted to IIT Dhanbad) in the year 2008. After that he joined Chembiotek (TCG lifesciences), Kolkata as a research chemist. He served there for 15 months. He joined the research group of Dr. Debasis Das in 2009 to pursue his Ph.D. studies. During that period he prepared several fluorescent sensors for cations, anions, amino acids, pH, and many other substrates and successfully used them for analysis of environmental and biological samples. After obtaining Ph.D he join Dr Emily Que’s research group at University of Texas, Austin, USA as a postdoctoral researcher (Nov’14- Feb’16). In this period his main focus was to develop new 19F MRI contrast agents. Besides that he was also involved in project on metal hemostasis. Arnab will start his new assessment as a postdoc in Dr Lino Ferreria’s lab at Faculty of Medicine, University of Coimbra in this fall. Here he will be involved to investigating several cardiac disease and develop new regenerative medicine based on exosome. In his short research life arnab published 46 research articles in highly reputed journals. These papers have been cited 982 times, resulting in an h index of 18 and i10 index of 24. Arnab was invited as a reviewer in various reputed journals like Chemcomm, Sensor and actuator B, Synthetic metal, Spectrochimica acta A etc. In feature Arnab focus will be developing new imaging technique for invesgeting biological process and develop therapy or medicine for several critical diseases.

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Henrique Almeida

Henrique is a Bioengineer expert in natural-derived biomaterials and in novel tissue engineering and regenerative medicine approaches to restore damaged biological tissues. The focal point of his work is to enhance tissue repair by using natural-derived biochemical and biophysical cues in conjunction with cells. Additionally, he is focused in selecting the ideal cell population combination with the aim of streamlining minimally invasive personalized cell-based therapies. Single-stage therapies for tissue regeneration are also a subject that he aims to explore, not only for cartilage and bone repair, but also to work with other demanding tissues such as cardiac and liver. The use of ECM-derived materials, or ECM-mimicking materials, for tissue engineering is also a priority, to be used as functionalizing biomaterials and as deliver vehicles to growth factors and other biochemical and biophysical cues, while transporting cells and regenerating dysfunctional biological tissue. More recently he has been working in a project focused in bioengineering of mature cardiac constructs. He has been successfully using human (healthy and diseased) iPSCs-derived cardiomyocytes, to induce cardiomyocyte maturation, for further drug screening and disease modeling. He did his undergraduate and master degree in New University of Lisbon, in Material Science and Engineering (focused in Biomaterials), and did his PhD in Bioengineering based in Trinity College Dublin. At the moment he is a postdoctoral researcher in Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, Faculty of Medicine at University of Coimbra.


Patricia Pitrez

Patricia finished the integrated master degree in Biological Engineering in the area of Food and Chemical Technology at the University of Minho. In 2009, she have made her master thesis at Novo Nordisk in Copenhagen, where she stayed for seven months, doing research on monitoring glucose and lactate concentrations in mammalian cell cultures using mid-infrared spectroscopy. In 2010 she have enrolled the MIT-Portugal Doctoral Program Bioengineering Systems as a PhD student. And in 2016, she completed her PhD on bioengineering at the University of Minho. She has been working at UC-Biotech in the Biomaterials and Stem Cell-Based Therapeutic Laboratory, using of bioengineering platforms to modulate the activity of smooth muscle cells derived from Progeria induced pluripotent stem cells.

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Research Fellows   


 Malwina Kotowicz

Malwina Kotowicz has received her Bachelor’s (2013) and Master’s degree (2015) in Biotechnology, at the Faculty of Biological Science, Department of Animal Molecular Physiology at University of Wroclaw, Poland. Both her Master and Bachelor thesis were led within a cooperation project between her home institution and Department of Biochemistry, University of Montreal. It embraced studies on glycolysis inhibition by one of the most potent mammalian aldolase inhibitors tested to date. She presented her research outcomes in this field at 3rd Conference of Medical Biology in Warsaw, Poland. After graduating in 2015, she participated in a work placement at the University of Madeira, Chemistry Department. Results obtained during the internship were presented at 18th International Symposium on Advances in Extraction Technologies (ExTech-2016).
Her scientific interests are molecular biology and physiology, bacterial expression systems and recombinant proteins, cardiac biology and modulators of cardiomyocyte cell survival, microbial electrogenesis.

  Malwina Kotowicz photo 

Ricardo Cerqueira de Abreu

Ricardo Abreu graduated in Genetics and Biotechnology in the University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro in 2014 and pursued his Master degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology in the University of Coimbra, from which he graduated in 2016. For his master thesis project, Ricardo worked in the group of Dr. Paula da Costa Martins, Department of Cardiology, University of Maastricht, in the discovery of microRNA involved in the potentiation of angiogenesis. His research was based on the screening of an anti-microRNA library through functional assessment of hundreds of non-coding RNAs on the modulation of the proliferation, migration and tube formation capacities of human endothelial cells.


Tiago Santos

Tiago Santos graduated from University of Coimbra, Portugal, with a Master’s degree in Biochemistry and, more recently, with a PhD in Biosciences, specialization in Neuroscience. During these stages, he generated a mounting number of results in the area of neurogenesis and biomaterials that culminated in several high impact papers, patents and awards. His PhD studies focused on the pro-neurogenic effect of a novel light-responsive retinoic acid-loaded nanoparticle formulation under the supervision of Dr. Liliana Bernardino. After a period at the University of Southern California, USA, he further explored the application of nanomaterials in biological systems, this time focusing on carbon nanotube-induced hyperthermia for glioma cancer treatment under the supervision of Dr. Thomas Chen and Dr. Florence Hofman. His expectations are to continue establishing a strong background in the development of novel brain repair therapies.

   Tiago Santos



This pflag yellow lowroject has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 669088