Aging of the population and the burden of brain disorders is one of the most relevant societal challenges in Europe. The newly created group brings together researchers from CNC, FMUC and CHUC with a common interest in translational and clinical research in aging and brain disorders, whose main goal is to improve patient’s diagnosis and intervention. The group has a high-standard publication record in the last 5 years (177, 10 TOP 3%) with a solid critical mass built of researchers at different career stages (13 PhD researchers) and a clinical staff with different backgrounds (8 neurologists, 2 psychiatrists, 1 medical geneticist, 1 neuropathologist and 2 psychologists). The group leader, Catarina Oliveira, has a strong CV with more than 300 peer-reviewed papers, h-factor of 39 (Web of knowledge) and a vast experience in the coordination of research groups at different levels.
All projects to be developed will range from laboratory to clinical areas. The laboratory units encompass researchers from the Neurochemistry lab (CHUC, CNC), the Neurogenetics lab (CNC) and the Cytogenetics and Genomics lab (FMUC). The clinical areas (CHUC) encompass researchers from the following units: Neuropsychology, Dementia, Movement Disorders, Neuromuscular Disorders, Demielinating Disorders, Medical Genetics, Old Age Psychiatry and Psychiatric Complex Disorders.
These units have been involved in the investigation of cognitive dysfunction of aging, neurodegeneration, neuropsychiatric diseases, and dementia, at a human level. Apart from their research activity, they have a long time experience in the diagnosis; of complex neurodegenerative diseases, the laboratories are certified by APCER and participate in international quality control schemes, therefore warranting high quality standards.
The team has an established productive inter-institutional partnership, involving an outstanding combination of expertise from basic to clinical research and a large network of international collaborations, some of them organized in consortia, such as the European Alzheimer’s Disease Consortium; Joint Programming in Neurodegenerative Disorders, European early-onset dementia consortium and sSMC European Consortium. Group members have several past and ongoing financed National and European projects that resulted in several publications and new diagnostic tools. By being together we are in a unique position to address our goals, namely by reinforcing international collaborations that improve research ideas, promoting an attractive work environment for graduate students and clinicians. In its future policy the Group considers to apply for competitive national and international funding and establish partnerships with pharmaceutical industry.
One of our major values is the expertise in research using clinical and human biological samples leading to a real translational application to the clinical practice. Besides the clinical input, we have access to more than 2000 human samples, from patients and controls, including: DNA, biological fluids (Cerebrospinal fluid – CSF + serum + plasma) and cryopreserved primary cells. The different labs are equipped to perform different methodologies, namely: HPLC, PCR, RT-PCR, fragment analysis and direct sequencing, RFLP analysis, high resolution karyotyping, FISH (interphases/metaphases) analysis, MLPA, MS-MLPA, microarrays analysis (aCGH). Fully equipped cell culture rooms and a security level 2 room, for prion diseases studies are also available. The close collaboration with CNC-Biotech at BIOCANT will be valuable to perform OMICS-methodologies and technology transference.
The group members will meet monthly to discuss results, projects, seminal papers and funding opportunities. Senior Researchers will organize postgraduate courses and scientific meetings within the scope of the group research aims. Some Group members will pursue on its involvement with patients associations and dissemination of our research findings to the society.