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Faculty of Medicine of University of Porto
Early career investigator (ECI):
Short biography of member:
I started my PhD in 2005 in Departments of Physiology of FMUP (Porto) and VUMC (Amsterdam). Since then, I focused in clarifying mechanisms underlying diastolic heart failure (DHF, ~50% of HF cases) presenting normal contractility but diastolic dysfunction (impaired relaxation or increase ventricular stiffness). I showed that DHF myocardium is stiffer1, has lower PKG activity and displays major histological alterations, aggravated in the presence of DM, hypertension, hypertrophy and in women. Unfortunately, DHF still lacks an adequate treatment, partly due to the counfounding risk factors of the aged heterogeneous DHF population and also due to the lack of an animal model. Thus, we established an animal model that robustly mimics all DHF features and used it to test novel therapeutic options. Notably, we found that the heart is able to acutely adjust to stress by decreasing its stiffness via PKG signalling, unraveling a potential novel target for DHF. These findings resulted from key methodologies to assess in vitro function in cardiac myoctes that I have implemented and resulted in over 50 papers, including consensus papers from the ESC, attesting my international recognition. Altogether, these steps launched me as a PI with an independent research line, funding (>350K€) and a motivated team (5 PhD and 2 master students). Moreover I chair 2 electives in Medicine Degree that contribute for students’ specific cardiovascular research training.