I am very grateful for the opportunity to perform my PhD within the RETORNA program. I believe we will open up novel strategies for treating retinal diseases and transforming lives together.

My academic background focuses on the area of Life Sciences, with a Bachelor´s and Master´s degree in Biochemistry from the Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of Coimbra. It was in 2019 that my journey in research began, more specifically in the area of vision sciences. That year I developed my first project, which consisted in evaluating the effect of oxidative stress on the structure and function of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) in the context of age-related macular degeneration. Then, I also investigated the effect of blueberry juice on the retina in an animal model of pre-diabetes. Lastly, in my master’s thesis, I studied the role of fibroblast-derived microvesicles in the induction of epithelial-mesenchymal transition in RPE cells.

My involvement in all these retina-related projects made me want nothing less than deep in my knowledge and learn new things in this area. Within this project, I am most excited about the possibility of performing experiments to target and modulate specific miRNAs and the opportunity to explore new diagnostic biomarkers for retinal diseases.  I am honestly motivated to contribute to a better understanding of retinal diseases and potentially discover new therapeutic strategies that could make a significant difference in patients’ lives. I firmly believe that my extensive exposure to projects related to the retina, along with the fact that I don´t give up easily and love learning and doing research, will help me make a meaningful contribution to the RETORNA project.

Interests and hobbies ofMaria Pires

Traveling, Reading and CrossFit.