Joana Pereira is currently a Ph.D. student in Molecular and Cellular Biology developing her project in the Cell Biology of Bacterial Infections group at Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde (i3S). She aims to understand the mechanisms underlying host resistance and plasma membrane (PM) repair upon challenge with pneumolysin, a poreforming toxin and major virulence factor produced by the deadly human bacterial pathogen S. pneumoniae. To further her research, Joana will spend four months in the laboratory of Prof. Dr. John Leong at Tufts University in Boston. She intends to validate her current data using purified pneumolysin in the context of infection with S. pneumoniae expressing the full repertoire of virulence determinants and using more relevant and complex 3D-cultured cell models closely mimicking human respiratory tissues. This collaboration will fulfill the objectives of Joana’s Ph.D. work and broader impact her current knowledge on the importance of PM repair in host resistance to infection.

Tufts University

Grant duration: 4 months