The DEM Research Group includes 3 senior researchers (integrated members), two holding academic positions and one assistant researcher. The group currently includes 1 PhD student and 2 MSc students. One member (Sólveig Thorsteinsdóttir) is on the coordination committee of the undergraduate degree in Biology and of the MSc programme in Evolutionary and Developmental Biology. She is also active within the Portuguese Society for Developmental Biology (www.spbd.pt). Another member (Gabriela Rodrigues) is the president of the ORBEA (Animal Welfare Committee) of FCUL (http://ciencias.ulisboa.pt/orbea) and is a member of the Executive Committee of the cE3c. Moreover, both are members of the Coordination Committee of the FCUL-Microscopy Facility (http://fculmf.campus.ciencias.ulisboa.pt/).
Objectives of the Research Group
Our group uses a Developmental Biology approach to ask fundamental questions about how organisms, and the organs and tissues they contain, develop. Notably, it is at the organ and tissue levels that diseases become manifest. For this reason, Developmental Biology has been, and continues to be, very effective in delivering explanations for diseases or medically relevant processes including birth defects, cancer, wound healing, tissue regeneration and regenerative medicine, including stem cell biology.
We work primarily on understanding how components of the extracellular matrix, the macromolecular network that exists between cells, influences cell behaviour, both chemically and mechanically. Our major model system is the development of the amniote musculoskeletal system and we are interested in how the different cell types that compose this system communicate and regulate each other’s development and how, in certain cases, defects in these communication events lead to disease.
Finally, we are also interested in studying the role the extracellular matrix plays in regulating cellular responses to stress and diseases other than those of the musculoskeletal system, like for example in cancer.
The specific objectives of our group are the following:
We have several international collaborations: with Dean J. Burkin at the University of Nevada (USA) on the study of mouse models of LAMA2-Congenital Muscular Dystrophy, with Shahragim Tajbakhsh at the Institut Pasteur (France) on skeletal muscle development, with Patrícia Ybot-Gonzalez at the Instituto de Biomedicina de Sevilla (Spain) on laminins during mouse embryo development, with Theodor Smit at the University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands) on the mechanobiology of somitogenesis, and with Manuel Koch at the University of Cologne (Germany) on extracellular matrix biology.
Casimiro, M.H., Gomes, S.R., Rodrigues, G., Leal, J.P. & Ferreira, L.M. (2018) Chitosan/Poly (vinylpyrrolidone) Matrices obtained by gamma-irradiation for skin scaffolds: Characterization and preliminary cell response studies.Materials, 11(12), 2535. DOI:10.3390/ma11122535 (IF2018 2,972; Q2 Materials Science, Multidisciplinary)
Sampaio-Pinto, V., Couto Rodrigues, S., Laundos, T.L., Silva, E., Vasques-Nóvoa, F., Silva, A.C., Cerqueira, R.J., Resende, T.P., Pianca, N., Leite-Moreira, A., D’Uva, G., Thorsteinsdóttir, S., Pinto-do-Ó, P. & Nascimento, D.S. (2018) Neonatal apex resection triggers cardiomyocyte proliferation, neovascularization and functional recovery in spite of local fibrosis.Stem Cell Reports, 10(3), 860-874. DOI:10.1016/j.stemcr.2018.01.042 (IF2018 5,499; Q1 Developmental Biology)
Van Ry, P.M., Fontelonga, T.M., Barraza-Flores, P., Sarathy, A., Nunes, A.M. & Burkin, D.J. (2017) ECM-related myopathies and muscular dystrophies: pros and cons of protein therapies.Comprehensive Physiology, 7(4), 1519-1536. DOI:10.1002/cphy.c150033 (IF2017 5,797; Q1 Physiology)