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Research Associate

Education and Training

PhD in Bioengineering, Instituto Superior Técnico, University of Lisbon, Portugal, 2021

Research Assistant, Instituto Superior Técnico, University of Lisbon, Portugal, 2015-2016

MSc in Biological Engineering, Instituto Superior Técnico, University of Lisbon, Portugal, 2015

BSc in Biological Engineering, Instituto Superior Técnico, University of Lisbon, Portugal, 2013

Research activities

My work is related with the development of a simple 3D platform for cardiomyocyte (CM) differentiation from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC) in vitro, using a protocol based on the temporal modulation of the Wnt signaling pathway. The most critical parameters for cardiomyocyte differentiation using this protocol in a 3D culture system were identified to be the initial aggregate population, in terms of homogeneity and aggregate size, and the concentration of the small molecule CHIR for mesendoderm induction. In this project with established a model that correlates the cardiomyocyte differentiation efficiency (cTnT-positive cells after 15 days of differentiation) with aggregate size and CHIR concentration. The developed model, besides revealing the impact that each analysed variable has on cardiomyocyte differentiation in a 3D culture system, will facilitate the differentiation process optimization for other cell lines since it is well reported in the literature the intrinsic variability that exists among different hiPSC. This platform is expected to be a valuable tool for regenerative therapies and can serve as a simple tissue model for drug screening and cardiac disease modelling using patient specific hiPSC. Also, since this platform uses a forced aggregation method to obtain the 3D aggregates, it can be also useful to analysed the effect that this type of aggregation has on intracellular signaling pathways modulation, and consequently on CM differentiation efficiency, when compared with other aggregate methods.

Selected publications

Branco, M.A., Cotovio, J.P., Rodrigues, C.A.V., Vaz, S.H., Fernandes, T.G., Moreira, L.M., Cabral, J.M.S., Diogo, M.M. Transcriptomic analysis of 3D Cardiac Differentiation of Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Reveals Faster Cardiomyocyte Maturation Compared to 2D Culture. Sci Rep 9:9229 (2019).

Rodrigues, C.A.V., Branco, M., Nogueira, D.E.S., Silva, T.P., Gomes, A.R., Diogo, M.M., Cabral, J.M.S. Bioreactors for Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Expansion and Differentiation, in Bioreactors for Stem Cell Expansion and Differentiation, (J.M.S. Cabral & C. Lobato da Silva, Eds.), CRC Press, ISBN 9781498795906 (2018).