Sandwich Doctoral Course

In 2020, the student Marcos Braz held a sandwich doctorate at the REGA INSTITUTE FOR MEDICAL RESEARCH - CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF LEUVEN, BELGIUM. (KATHOLIEKE UNIRVESITEIT LEUVEN), under the supervision of Prof. Johann Van Weyenbergh. A total of 169 nasopharyngeal swabs were collected from patients 64 years of age or older, admitted to University Hospitals Leuven, Belgium, positive for COVID-19 and confirmed via RT-qPCR (34 mild asymptomatic, 71 moderate without need for ventilation mechanics and 64 severe UTI+INTUBATION). The 64 intubated patients had comorbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, heart, lung, kidney, neurological diseases, patients being treated for cancer, patients with immunosuppression and patients with frailty syndrome. Then were performed TOTAL RNA EXTRACTION from nasopharyngeal swabs of patients infected with SARS-COV-2 and subsequently performed GENE EXPRESSION via nCounter® nanoString using the Myeloid Innate Immunity Panel. Gene Expression Analysis was performed via Gene Expression Analysis (nCounter®) Advanced Analysis Software.

In 2018, the student Genario Oliveira Santos Júnior held a sandwich doctorate at the Department of Clinical Pharmacology of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Malaga, under the supervision of Profa. Maria Isabel Lucena Gonzalez. Training was carried out in causality assessment of hepatotoxicity cases, evaluation and validation of hepatotoxicity cases in Latin America, sending of cases and database feeding, routine monitoring of collection and preparation of biological samples, participation in discussion sessions of PRO-EURO-DILI clinical cases, preparation of a scientific article for publication.

In 2017 the student Camila Farias Amorim held a Doctorate Sandwich at the University of Pennsylvania, under the supervision of Prof. Phillip Scott, a world-renowned scientist in the 
field of immunopathology in Leishmania infection. RNA extraction from patient samples and healthy controls was performed to perform RNAseq. The generated metadata were 
transcriptomically analyzed in an R language bioinformatics environment with application of analysis packages associated to biology and RNAseq (such as Bioconductor).

In 2016, Professor Pedro Paulo Carneiro took an Interuniversity Exchange Doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania, under the guidance of the Prof. Phillip Scott, a globally known scientist in the area of immunopathology in Leishmania infection. Experimental protocols were developed to assess the cell migration in tegumentary leishmaniasis. During this period, experiments were conducted in vivo and in vitro assessing the cell profile that migrates to the injury site of tegumentary leishmaniasis in infections caused by the Leishmania braziliensis. We have used the Transwell technique as the basis of the experiment and the flow cytometry to evaluate the cells phenotype.

In 2015, student Lorena Rosa Santos de Almeida, from the Doctoral course at PPgCS, was seconded to do a Sandwich Doctoral Course at the Clinical Rehabilitation Sciences Research Group, Faculty of Health Sciences, at the University of Sydney, Australia, between 2/3/2015 and 31/8/2015, under the guidance of Colleen Canning. The plan of activities included predictive models and explanations of the risk of falls in individuals with Parkinson's disease, comprising of the following activities:

1)    Activities were developed in relation to a cohort of individuals with Parkinson's disease who had been assessed in Brazil, aiming to assess predictors of falls in this population. The collaboration was held with a research group that has extensive experience in studies related to falls in Parkinson's disease and with a large number of publications in this area.

2)    Development of explanatory models to investigate risk factors for fall and recurrent falls which are potentially modifiable in individuals with Parkinson’s disease.

3)    The carrying out of survival analysis to explore the time until the occurrence of the first fall in individuals with Parkinson's disease who presented only one fall and in individuals who have had recurrent falls.

4)    Investigation of a predictive model of recurrent falls to assess the contribution of different risk factors for the occurrence of multiple falls in individuals with Parkinson's disease. Analyses were performed using Poisson Gaussiana Inverse Regression based on the rate of falls, and negative binomial regression and regression of poisson modified with robust variance, based on the infrequent, frequent and very frequent proportion of fallers.

The activities developed in Australia were within the research remit of the PhD doctoral student and resulted in the publication below:

ALMEIDA, LORENA R.S. (graduate Master’s student in Dec 2012 student PhD since March 2013);  SHERRINGTON, CATHERINE; ALLEN, NATALIE E.; PAUL, SERENE S.; VALENCA, GUILHERME T. (graduate Master’s student in Dec 2010 student PhD defended in February 2015); Oliveira-Filho, Jamary ; CANNING, COLLEEN G (FOREIGN AUTHOR). Disability is an Independent Predictor of Falls and Recurrent Falls in People with Parkinson’s disease Without a History of Falls: A One-Year Prospective Study. J PARKINSON DIS, v. 5, p. 855-864, 2015. JCR-2014: 1,91, QUALIS B1. FINISHED WORK.

In 2014, 5 students from the doctorate course at PPgCS went to do a doctorate sandwich course: 1 in the United States, 2 in Finland, 1 in France and 1 in Belgium.

The PhD student, Augusto Marcelino Pedreira de Carvalho, went to do an internship of 12 month duration in the Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, in August 2014, under the guidance of Prof. Fabiano Oliveira, from the United States.

The activities to be performed included: 1) Optimization of use of mammalian codons and synthesis of proteins Linb-13, 17, 21, 26, 35, 42, 46.54, 65 and 81 with tail of Histidine; 2) expression of proteins in 293 cells and purification by HPLC and columns of Histidine and Exclusion by size; and 3) evaluation of proteins as markers of exposure, using Sera from individuals who had been naturally exposed. The activity plan is called “The evaluation of Lutzomyia saliva proteins as markers of exposure to the candidate’s vector”.

The doctoral candidates, Dafne Carvalho Andrade and Igor Carmo Borges, left in October 2014 for a 5 month internship in Turun Yliopisto, in Turku, Finland, under the guidance of Prof. Olli Ruuskanen.

The activities developed were for validation of a serological test in multiplex using recombinant proteins from pathogens Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae and Moraxella catarrhalis. Paired samples were evaluated in children between 2-59 months old with previous diagnosis of pneumococcal pneumonia confirmed via blood culture as positive controls. Paired samples from children in the same age group who underwent tonsillectomy were used as negative controls.

From the results of the above samples, cut-off points for serological response can be defined as likely for Pneumococcus infection. In addition, samples of children hospitalized with pneumonia previously tested for the presence of antibodies against the C polysaccharide were evaluated with the multiplex test developed. The plan of activities was entitled “serological diagnosis of respiratory pathogens using multiplex testing: validation and comparison with other techniques.”

The doctoral candidate José Abraão Carneiro Neto departed in September 2014 in order to stay in Bordeaux, France, for 12 months. His foreign advisor was Dr. Thierry Piechaud. His planned activities included participation in surgical procedures and follow-up of pharmacological interventions for patients with voiding dysfunction, the subject of his thesis project being “which patients with infection by HTLV1 are subjected to different interventions”.

The doctoral student Kiyoshi Ferreira Fukutani was at the Catholic University of Leuven between September and November 2014 (for the second time during the doctoral course), under the guidance of Prof. Annemieke Vandamme. The plan of activities included expanding the identification and validation of markers of respiratory infections comprising the following actions: extraction of RNA from samples, the controls for comparison of the results of the nCounter with gold standard of real-time PCR and training for the analysis of the expression of other genes by bioinformatics.

In August 2014, the doctoral candidate William Teixeira Valencia returned, after spending 12 months on the doctoral sandwich course at Harvard University, in Boston (MA), United States of America.