Metab3 | Structure

The group consists of three self-supporting Laboratories headed by John Jones, Eugenia Carvalho, and João Ramalho-Santos. While all laboratories are focused strongly on the fields of Metabolism, Diabetes and Obesity, they are specialized in different but complementary methodologies for understanding the cellular and systemic mechanisms that explain the loss of metabolic homeostasis in these settings.

The Jones lab specializes in the development of stable isotope tracer methods for quantifying hepatic intermediary metabolic fluxes that include gluconeogenesis, glycogen synthesis and hydrolysis, and de novo lipogenesis. The lab is primarily equipped for metabolite quantification, isolation and chemical derivatization for analysis of isotopic enrichment and they are developing both NMR and MS analytical methods. The lab has access to state-of-the-art NMR and MS instruments that are part of the CNC/Biocant and University of Coimbra Core Facilities. In addition to designing and performing their own metabolic studies in animal models and with local clinics, they are also involved in the study design and metabolic flux analyses with collaborating overseas laboratories.

The Carvalho lab specializes in molecular biology-based analyses of tissue hormone levels, expression and signaling pathway status from human and animal tissue biopsies thereby providing a profile of tissue and systemic regulators of glucose and lipid metabolism. They have specialized in the analysis of adipocyte metabolic regulation in primary cultures of adipocytes derived from adipose tissue biopsies as well as developing animal models for the study of diabetic wound healing. This lab also has strong links to both overseas and Portuguese Clinics and both labs have collaborated closely in networking with prospective clinical groups to initiate research collaborations. This has culminated in the partnership within the Portuguese Diabetes Association Clinic Education and Research Center (APDP-ERC) in Lisbon and the recipient of FCT funding as a Center of Excellence.

The Ramalho-Santos lab has focused on transcriptomics, proteomics and more recently metabolomics analysis in order to identify glucose-based metabolic pathways involved in both human gamete function, and pluripotent stem cell fate, with relevance to both Assisted Reproduction and cancer development in the reproductive system, and how both aspects may be affected by diabetic complications. The group has a strong translational component via the Reproduction Unit of the University Hospitals, and international collaborations involving joint projects/students/postdoctoral fellows.

While the labs belonged to different Research Groups during 2008-2012, because of their common interests, they have worked closely together in organizing Postgraduate Courses, and integrating students and Postdocs into each other´s areas of expertise. One important objective has been to train researchers to be competent in both modern molecular biology approaches and metabolic tracer methodologies. They have held joint lab meetings and have also been involved, along with other Diabetes Basic Research Labs, in establishing a Basic and Translational Study Group within the Portuguese Diabetes Association. For the upcoming 2015-20 period, the group will formally constitute the three labs and they will continue to develop their respective areas of expertise, while furthering other independent projects, when appropriate. However, the labs will certainly take advantage their close collaboration and complementary skill sets to formulate joint multidisciplinary research projects when the opportunities arise.