The Team

António Mateus-Pinheiro, PhD

Board Member/Co-founder

António Mateus-Pinheiro holds a degree in Applied Biology and, he is currently concluding his training in Medicine, both by the University of Minho, Portugal. He developed his PhD thesis in the field of neurosciences, studying adult brain neuroplasticity and regeneration in the context of neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders. In his PhD work, António studied the impact of synapto-dendritic remodelling and the functional relevance of hippocampal neural stem cells and their progeny to different cognitive and emotional behavioral domains, both in healthy and chronically stressed animals. Moreover he investigated epigenetic modifications underlying depressive behavior and antidepressant mechanisms, in a conjoint project between the University of Minho (PT) and Queen Mary University of London (UK).
He is currently a PhD researcher at the ICVS, University of Minho, and he authored and co-authored several original research articles, reviews and book chapters (15 peer-reviewed publications, with an accumulated impact factor over 100).
In recent years, António also devoted himself to the development of new tools for preclinical drug testing, and had additional training in several areas of management, accounting and entrepreneurship.

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João Miguel Bessa, MD, PhD

Board Member/Co-founder

João Bessa is an MD, PhD, board-certified Psychiatrist, currently working as Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Anatomy at the School of Medicine, University of Minho, Principal Investigator at ICVS/3B’s Associate Laboratory and as Assistant Psychiatrist at Hospital de Braga, Portugal. Co-author of several original research articles and book chapters. Expert reviewer for several scientific journals and international funding agencies. Recent primary research focus: translational approaches to neuroplasticity and functional connectivity in depression. Ambassador of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) in Portugal from 2013-2017.


Luísa Pinto, PhD

Board Member/Co-founder

Luisa Pinto (PhD) has graduated in Biochemistry by the University of Coimbra and performed an internship at the Karolinska Institute (Sweden) on therapeutic tools for Parkinson’s Disease. She holds a PhD in Neurosciences by the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (Germany). She is currently an Assistant Researcher at the ICVS, focusing on novel therapeutics for Depression and an Invited Assistant Professor at the School of Medicine, University of Minho. Research skills cover stem cell biology; assessment of neuroplastic events; behavioral tests; electrophysiological techniques; stem cell cultures and pre-clinical animal models. She authored and co-authored over 30 scientific publications, cited above 500 times. She has also received training in management and entrepreneurship.

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Nuno Sousa, MD, PhD

Nuno Sousa is a Neuroradiologist and a full Professor at the School of Medicine, University of Minho. He is also the President of the School of Medicine and director of the Clinical Academic Centre, in Braga. He coordinates several research projects at the ICVS, University of Minho and has published over 200 scientific articles on different areas of neuroscience. Nuno participates in several scientific consulting councils and is the Editor of Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience Journal.

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Patrícia Patrício, PhD

Board Member/Co-founder

Patrícia Patrício graduated in Applied Biology by the University of Minho and obtained a MSc in Molecular Genetics and Biomedicine by the New University of Lisbon, in 2010. Her master’s work at the Portuguese Oncology Institute was on molecular and epigenetic mechanisms regulating the expression of a protein in renal cell carcinomas. Patrícia holds a PhD in Health Sciences by the School of Medicine, University of Minho. Her PhD work focused on neuroplastic phenomena occurring in the context of depression, using a preclinical model. She is currently a post doctoral researcher at the ICVS, University of Minho. She has authored and co-authored over 14 scientific publications.
Patrícia has also a post graduation in Business Management and has received training in several areas of management and entrepreneurship. She is a member of the supervisory board at ANJE (Portuguese Association for Young Entrepreneurs) and an IPMA Level D, Certified Project Management Associate.

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Nuno Ribeiro, Certified Accountant, Post-Graduate

Accountant/Financial Controller/Management Assistant

Nuno holds a Management degree by the School Universitas Catholica Lusitana and a post-graduation in business taxation by the Polytechnic Institute of Cávado and Ave, Portugal. He has over ten years of financial management experience. His core competences include financial management, management and costs control, cost accounting, fiscal reports and performance evaluation.


Selected Publications

Technical innovation

Castelhano-Carlos, M., Costa, P.S., Russig, H., Sousa, N. PhenoWorld: a new paradigm to screen rodent behavior. Translational Psychiatry (2014).


Mateus-Pinheiro, A., Patricio, P., Alves, N.D., Machado-Santos, A.R., Morais, M., Bessa, J.M., Sousa, N., and Pinto, L. The Sweet Drive Test: refining phenotypic characterization of anhedonic behavior in rodents. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 8 (2014).


Pinto, L., Mateus-Pinheiro, A., Morais, M., Bessa, J.M. & Sousa, N. Immuno-Golgi as a tool for analyzing neuronal 3D-dendritic structure in phenotypically characterized neurons. PLoS One 7, e33114 (2012).

Psychiatric disorders

Mateus-Pinheiro, A., Alves, N.D., Patrício, P., Machado-Santos, A.R., Campos, E.L., Silva, J., Sardinha, V.M., Reis, J., Schorle, H., Oliveira, J.F., Ninkovic, J., Sousa, N., Pinto, L., AP2? controls adult hippocampal neurogenesis and modulates cognitive, but not anxiety or depressive-like behavior, Molecular Psychiatry (2016).


Soares-Cunha, C., Coimbra, B., David-Pereira, A., Borges, S., Pinto, L., Costa, P., Sousa, N., Rodrigues, A.J. Activation of D2 dopamine receptor-expressing neurons in the nucleus accumbens increases motivation, Nature Communications, 7 (2016).


Patricio, P., Mateus-Pinheiro, A., Irmler, M., Alves, N.D., Machado-Santos, A.R., Morais, M., Correia, J.S., Korostynski, M., Piechota, M., Stoffel, R., Beckers, J., Bessa, J.M., Almeida, O.F., Sousa, N., Pinto, L. Differential and converging molecular mechanisms of antidepressants’ action in the hippocampal dentate gyrus. Neuropsychopharmacology (2015).


Morais, M., Santos, P.A., Mateus-Pinheiro, A., Patricio, P., Pinto, L., Sousa, N., Pedroso, P., Almeida, S., Filipe, A., Bessa, J.M. The effects of chronic stress on hippocampal adult neurogenesis and dendritic plasticity are reversed by selective MAO-A inhibition, Journal of Psychopharmacology, 28 (2014).


Bessa JM, Morais M, Marques F, Pinto L., Palha JA, Almeida OF, Sousa N. Stress-induced anhedonia is associated with hypertrophy of medium spiny neurons of the nucleus accumbens. Translational Psychiatry (2013).


Mateus-Pinheiro, A., Pinto, L., Bessa, J.M., Morais, M., Alves, N.D., Monteiro, S., Patrício, P., Almeida, O.F.X., Sousa, N. Sustained remission from depressive-like behavior depends on hippocampal neurogenesis. Translational Psychiatry (2013).


Oliveira, M., Rodrigues, A.J., Leão, P., Cardona, D., Pêgo, J.M. & Sousa, N. The bed nucleus of stria terminalis and the amygdala as targets of antenatal glucocorticoids: implications for fear and anxiety responses. Psychopharmacology (2012).


Dias-Ferreira, E., Sousa, J.C., Melo, I., Morgado, P., Mesquita, A.R., Cerqueira, J.J., Costa, R.M. & Sousa, N. Chronic stress causes frontostriatal reorganization and affects decision-making. Science 325, 621-625 (2009).


Bessa, J.M., Mesquita, A.R., Oliveira, M., Pego, J.M., Cerqueira, J.J., Palha, J.A., Almeida, O.F. & Sousa, N. A trans-dimensional approach to the behavioral aspects of depression. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 3, (2009).


Bessa, J.M., Ferreira, D., Melo, I., Marques, F., Cerqueira, J.J., Palha, J.A., Almeida, O.F. & Sousa, N. The mood-improving actions of antidepressants do not depend on neurogenesis but are associated with neuronal remodeling. Molecular Psychiatry 14 (2009).

Neurodegenerative disorders

Lopes, S., Vaz-Silva, J., Pinto, V., Dalla, C., Kokras, N., Bedenk, B., Mack, N., Czisch, M., Almeida, O.F., Sousa, N., Sotiropoulos, I. Tau protein is essential for stress-induced brain pathology, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2016)

Campos, F.L., Carvalho, M.M., Cristovao, A.C., Je, G., Baltazar, G., Salgado, A.J., Kim, Y.S., Sousa, N. Rodent models of Parkinson’s disease: beyond the motor symptomatology, Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 7 (2013).


Teixeira, F.G., Panchalingam, K.M., Assuncao-Silva, R., Serra, S.C., Mendes-Pinheiro, B., Patricio, P., Jung, S., Anjo, S.I., Manadas, B., Pinto, L., Sousa, N., Behie, L.A., Salgado, A.J. Modulation of the Mesenchymal Stem Cell Secretome Using Computer-Controlled Bioreactors: Impact on Neuronal Cell Proliferation, Survival and Differentiation, Scientific Reports, 6 (2016).


Ribeiro-Samy S, Silva NA, Correlo VM, Fraga JS, Pinto L, Teixeira-Castro AC, Leite-Almeida H, Almeida A, Gimble JM, Sousa N, Salgado AJ, Reis RL. Development and Characterization of PHB-HV based 3D Scaffolds for a Tissue Engineering and Cell-Therapy Combinatorial Approach for Spinal Cord Injury Regeneration. Macromolecular Bioscience (2013).


Pojo, M., Goncalves, C.S., Xavier-Magalhaes, A., Oliveira, A.I., Goncalves, T., Correia, S., Rodrigues, A.J., Costa, S., Pinto, L., Pinto, A.A., Lopes, J.M., Reis, R.M., Rocha, M., Sousa, N., Costa, B.M. A transcriptomic signature mediated by HOXA9 promotes human glioblastoma initiation, aggressiveness and resistance to temozolomide, Oncotarget, 6 (2015).