Nuno Grande Doctoral Scholarship 2023 already has a winner

Nuno Grande Doctoral Scholarship 2023 already has a winner


João Moura, a student in the doctoral programme in Medical Sciences at the Abel Salazar Institute of Biomedical Sciences (ICBAS), is the winner of the 2nd edition of the Nuno Grande Doctoral Scholarship (BDNG) with a research project on encephalitis.

Identifying antibodies that allow for the early detection and consequent treatment of autoimmune encephalitis is the main objective of the winning PhD project of the BDNG 2023, an initiative of Professor Nuno Grande's family, ICBAS and the BIAL Foundation.

João Moura, the project's author, an intern in Neurology at Hospital Santo António and a student in the ICBAS doctoral programme in Medical Sciences, explains the clinical applicability of the winning project: "This group of diseases is very heterogeneous, with very different clinical manifestations, so it's very difficult to diagnose. In addition, there are patients who are seronegative (without antibodies associated with the disease), which makes the diagnostic process more difficult. That's why our work aims to search for and identify new antibodies associated with this pathology".

Autoimmune encephalitis (EAI) is a group of inflammatory brain diseases caused by the production of autoantibodies against neuronal antigens and characterised by an altered state of consciousness, cognitive deficits, psychiatric symptoms, epileptic seizures and movement disorders, which can lead to irreversible damage or death if not treated properly.

Despite being a rare disease, affecting around 14 people per 100,000 inhabitants, João Moura believes that "due to the difficulty in detecting it, there can be underdiagnosis. So, this project has a very important second aspect because it will make it possible to map and record autoimmune encephalitis in Portugal".

The BDNG, worth 25,000 Euros, "is a unique opportunity to develop this work, namely to deal with the whole process of implementation, data collection and associated logistics, since around 30 hospital centres are involved", concludes the young researcher.

Awarded for the first time in 2023, as part of the University of Porto's Eminent Figure 2022 celebrations, the Nuno Grande Doctoral Scholarship aims to support research work in the areas of Fundamental Sciences, namely those aimed at promoting the acquisition of differentiating academic skills for the teaching of Medicine.

The award ceremony is taking place on 13 May, as part of the celebrations for the 49th anniversary of ICBAS.

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