Ana Isabel Roque receives a Fulbright grant supported by FCT

PhD fellow at ciTechCare and PhD student in Biology at the Faculty of Science and Technology of the NOVA University of Lisbon, Ana Isabel Roque has won a Fulbright grant to study the involvement of commensal bacteria in celiac disease’s autoimmunity mechanisms at Harvard Medical School.

As a visiting student researcher at Professor Fasano’s laboratory at the Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center, Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, Harvard Medical School, and supported by the Fulbright Program, she plans to employ an intestinal organoid-bacteria co-culture model to infer if commensal bacteria can disrupt and translocate the intestinal epithelial barrier and contribute to the autoimmune response observed in celiac patients.

Currently, Ana Isabel Roque is part of the research team of the CeliAct (TIV) project, as well as Sónia Gonçalves Pereira, principal researcher, also from ciTechCare. This project aims to advance the knowledge on Celiac Disease pathophysiology by dissecting mechanisms of gluten-microbiota-immune system interactions and characterize the bacterial microbiota structure of celiac disease patients, in order to understand if bacteria contributes to gut inflammation and gluten or bacteria translocation.

Starting in september and throughout the 8 months of this Fulbright grant, she hopes to provide new insights into specific host-bacteria interactions and their influence on host responses to environmental disease triggers that may enable the discovery of pathogenic targets and development of new therapeutic or preventive approaches.

Under the Fulbright Program, 18 students from different scientific fields, institutions and regions of our country, funded directly by Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), will start their research work in the USA.

This partnership between FCT and the Fulbright Commission, lasts for 9 years and is intended to support research fellows who have planned, within the scope of their training plan, to carry out a period of research at a U.S. university or research center. During their grants, Fulbrighters will meet, work, live with and learn from the people of the host country, sharing daily experiences.

This work was funded by Portuguese national funds provided by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia, I.P. FCT/UI/05704/2020