I am currently a Postdoctoral Visiting Fellow with Dr. Martha Nelson at the Fogarty International Center. Here, I have been studying the emergence and evolution of new influenza strains in animal populations. In addition to my work on influenza, I have been applying phylodynamic approaches to other RNA viruses for which the evolutionary and transmission patterns are still unclear.
I completed my first Postdoctoral fellowship with Professor Adolfo García-Sastre’s laboratory at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, USA. I was also part of the Centers for Excellence in Influenza Research, a global research network funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease at the National Health Institutes, USA. My main focus was on how influenza viruses evolve over time in animals, acquiring the ability to break host barriers becoming a major threat to humans and other species.
I completed my PhD in the field of Evolutionary Virology at the laboratory of Professor Philippe Lemey in KULeuven, Belgium. My project integrated the concepts of evolutionary biology and molecular epidemiology to study pathogens’ evolutionary processes at different biological scales. This culminated in a doctoral thesis entitled “The genetic traceability of viral pathogens: from isolation by distance to proximity by mobility”, and a very particular set of skills that bring together mathematical modelling through Bayesian statistics and the understanding of fundamental biology processes. These are useful to assess public health threats of viral epidemics and gain insight into patterns in disease transmission, with a particular focus on connecting the evolutionary process with geography and ecological patterns of host/vector species. We were also in a particularly exciting point in time when we aimed at advance phylogeographic inference from a traditionally descriptive approach to a hypothesis testing framework.
Before working on phylodynamics, I earned my Master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences from the Institute of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Portugal, where I did the academic program, and the KU Leuven where I developed my thesis while on an ERASMUS mobility programme. I was integrated in a project involving the development of a HIV-1 group M full genome next-generation sequencing protocol, under the supervision of Dr. Bram Vrancken and Professor Philippe Lemey.
During my Bachelor degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal, I was a Research fellow in the Centre of Malaria and other Tropical Diseases, at the Institute of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine working on the acquisition of resistance to multiple drugs (ARMD) project, under the supervision of Dr. Ana Afonso and Professor Virgílio do Rosário. My specific goals were to phenotype and genotype Plasmodium chabaudi clones resistant to artemisinin and artesunate. This work culminated with the successful defence of my BSc thesis.