A year in review - Part 3 of 3
Carlos Ribeiro and Inês Santiago close the series "A year in review" and tell us a little about what 2016 brought them (... and took) and what they expect from 2017.
Carlos Ribeiro – Principal Investigator
While 2016 will remain in our collective memory as a year in which we lost many inspiring artists, and world affairs have taken some unexpected and sometime dark turns, for our team this has been a fantastic and rewarding year. We remain focused on understanding how the brain helps the animal decide which type of food to eat. However, our work is allowing us to go beyond this specific aspect of behaviour. This year we published that, while nutrients act on the brain to influence what the animal eats, they are also very important in controlling many other aspects of animal behaviour including risk-taking. Furthermore, we have made exciting advances in discovering neurons and genes which are important for food choice in flies. As a mentor, an important highlight this year was also the award of the first (of what should be many) PhDs to a member of the lab.
I can’t wait to see what 2017 will bring. While I am sad that some of my students and postdocs will move on and take on new challenges and opportunities, I am also proud of their trajectories and confident they will do amazing work in their new labs. I am also excited at the prospect of working with new lab members who bring new scientific perspectives and cooking recipes to the team (a key element of our lab culture). Scientifically, one of the new focuses to which we plan to dedicate a lot of energy is our discovery that specific gut microbes can change what animals like to eat. I plan to hire a microbiologist to explore how these microbes act on the brain to change behaviour and we will be delving deeply into metabolomics, genetics, and circuit neuroscience to understand how microbes change this behaviour. So 2017 will bring new people, ideas, data, questions, doubts, papers, and hopefully grants. A great mix for an enriching and exciting ride!
Inês Santiago – Radiologist
2016 represented a major change of perspective for my career. I returned to the Champalimaud Foundation as an abdominal and gastrointestinal imaging specialist, working under the supervision of Prof. Celso Matos, the radiology department director and now also one of the heads of Champalimaud Research, someone who has always been a source of support and inspiration. I entered the Digestive Unit as a clinician and, at the same time, I was given the opportunity to join the preclinical MR imaging lab, led by Noam Shemesh, as a PhD student, where we have been working on new imaging acquisition and post-processing tools for the distinction between benign and malignant lymph nodes in rectal cancer. It is an indescribable privilege to work with and learn from brilliant researchers from such different areas of expertise, dedicated to the development of new MR imaging techniques and mathematical models of image analysis, and to witness the advances of knowledge at the galloping pace of a basic science lab. It makes ideas flourish!
I am looking forward to so many things in 2017! Brand new 3T MR and spectral CT equipment have just been installed in the clinic. A computational clinical imaging platform will be built and led by Nikos Papanikolaou, a renowned and vastly experienced biomedical engineer who has recently joined the team. We will have all the resources needed to expand knowledge in clinical diagnostic imaging. I am eager to continue my preclinical work at Shemesh lab, hopefully incorporating new exciting projects, and to strengthen the already settled collaboration with the systems oncology lab, led by Bruno Costa da Silva. Also, new cancer research labs will be joining the institution in 2017, so the collaboration possibilities will be further expanded. I hope I am up to all the challenges ahead and ultimately to be able to contribute for the development of tools that improve gastrointestinal and abdominal cancer patients´ care.