Graca Almeida-Porada, MD, PhD
Graca Almeida-Porada, MD, PhD, Professor
Dr. Almeida-Porada received her medical degree in 1985 from the University of Porto, Portugal. She completed her residency in 1987 and fellowship in Hematology/Transfusion Medicine in 1994, and obtained her Ph.D. in Pathology from the same University in 1995. She was a fellow at the University of Connecticut Health Center and at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine. She became faculty at the University of Nevada, Reno in 1999. In 2001 she joined the Department of Animal Biotechnology at the same Institution, where she was a Professor and the Director of Graduate Studies. In 2006 she was inducted into Phi Beta Delta. She has been a member of several NIH study sections, she serves on the Editorial Boards of several scientific journals, is the editor-in-chief of Current Stem Cell Reports and is the 2015 president elect of NCTERMS. Dr. Almeida-Porada has authored more than 120 scientific papers and book chapters. She joined the faculty at WFIRM in 2011.
SYNOPSIS OF AREA OF INTEREST: Dr. Almeida-Porada’s research focuses on the study of the biological properties and regenerative capabilities of adult stem cells, with the goal of understanding disease processes and developing novel approaches to cell therapy and tissue repair.
DETAILED AREA OF INTEREST: The study of stem cell biology provides a unique tool to gain a better understanding into the myriad of interwoven pathways involved in development, specification of cell fate, and tissue regeneration/repair. Furthermore, it can unravel the complex cell-cell interactions that control migration/homing and differentiation of cells during injury/repair and following transplantation. The Almeida-Porada laboratory is interested in investigating these basic biologic processes, using bone marrow and cord blood-derived stem cells as model systems, and translating the knowledge obtained to develop cell-based therapies for different organs/diseases. Specifically, we are delineating the pathways and the factors that govern stem cell expansion and differentiation into specific fates, by studying stem cells in their own microenvironment, at the niche level, and upon transplantation in injury and non-injury models. We are also devising techniques to improve the engraftment of transplanted cells through manipulation of the recipient’s niches and modulation of the transplanted cells’ immunogenicity. Collectively, we envision that the key information generated from each of the ongoing projects will provide the necessary tools for developing: 1) ways to obtain and expand non-immunogenic tissue-specific progenitor cells to be used in tissue engineering; and 2) new and safer approaches to cell therapy, including manipulation of stem cell niches to stimulate proliferation of endogenous stem cells, and/or facilitate engraftment and accelerate recovery after stem cell transplantation.