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Development of new gene therapy approaches for the treatment of ocular neovascularization

Final Report Summary - EYESEE (Development of new gene therapy approaches for the treatment of ocular neovascularization)

-The fellow has been significantly involved in the academic activities of the host institution, both at the educational and research levels, which allowed the fellow to apply for and be granted tenure effective October 2013. With this new professional situation, the fellow was nominated as Director of the Masters in Biomedical Sciences.
-The fellow has assumed teaching duties since 2009, with an increasing teaching load that includes the direction and teaching of courses on Bioethics, Gene and Cell Therapy, Congenital Diseases, Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering and Regeneration.
-The fellow has also strived to improve her career skills, by attending several courses and by successfully completing the first year of a two-year Masters in Bioethics.
-The fellow immediately started her independent research group, composed of very young researchers at early career stages, and has steered the group towards substantial dissemination of the group’s research. Together they have participated in 9 national and international conferences, presenting a total of 19 communications. The research work has so far originated 2 published papers, 2 accepted and 4 under revision in peer reviewed journals.
-The fellow has also had a significant impact in the supervision of young students, from undergraduate to postdoctoral fellows. She has supervised 35 undergraduate students in senior research projects, 10 Master thesis, 4 PhD candidates (one concluded), and 1 postdoctoral fellow (ongoing).
-To support the research, the fellow has applied for both national and international funding agencies, both independently and as co-PI, and was able to secure research funding totalling 500 000 Euro, and scholarships for 3 PhD students for 4 years and for 1 postdoctoral fellow for 3 years, totalling 250 000 Euro, with a combined total of close to 750 000 Euro.
-Since 2009 the fellow has established several national and international collaborations, which have resulted in peer-reviewed publications, communications in conferences, and joint supervision of students.
-The fellow has also been deeply involved in the preparation of new degrees, including an Erasmus Mundus PhD programme, and a national PhD programme on Regenerative Medicine and Mechanisms of Disease, selected for funding by the Portuguese National Science Agency. Other management activities within the institutional department such as part of the direction of a Master Programme, member elected of the scientific and educational boards and department coordinator of Mobility and international relations.
-She has also implemented and organized a research seminar series, with invited speakers from around the world, since 2009. In parallel, she has also extensively participated in activities geared towards undergraduate and graduate students, giving over 15 talks on current topics pertaining to her research area. She also organized training courses on specific skills for both undergraduate and graduate students, and these have been very successful over the years. She has also been very active in the creation of a new research centre website, by editing and revising contents and suggesting new features.
-For the general public, to name a few, the fellow has participated in the Open Doors’ Week of the host institution continuously since 2009; has participated, together with her research group, in the International Brain Awareness Week since 2012; in the European Researcher’s Night since 2012 and organized a open day of her lab and others of the research centre for elementary school kids (since 2012).
-The fellow and her lab have created a logo and a specific poster and slide layout that are used in all communications pertaining to the research group.

Gene Therapy Lab – EyeSee

Figure 1: Logo of the Gene Therapy Lab, headed by the Fellow.

Based on the above, the reintegration of the fellow was successful, with the fellow having succeeded both in academic and research terms. The fellow is now fully integrated within the academic environment, has obtained tenure and is deeply involved with the host institution and the community. In parallel, the fellow has strived to develop research with impact in the society, especially those suffering from visual dysfunctions, by developing new vectors for gene therapy, an area that has seen significant developments in recent years.