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Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Rodrigo Dutra Nunes

Year entered program

2018

Undergraduate degree and institution

BS degree in Biological Sciences with minor in Genetics in Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), 2006.

Master Institution

Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Department of Biochemistry, 2008

PhD institution

Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Institute of Medical Biochemistry, 2012.

Preceptor

Daniela Drummond-Barbosa, PhD

Current project

Infertility is a multifactorial condition that affects almost 50% of the global human population, and 30% of infertility cases do not have a known cause. Interestingly, the risk of infertility is three times higher in obese women and 60% of U.S. women are considered obese. Although infertility cases show a high correlation with obesity, the molecular mechanisms underlying the link between them remain poorly understood. We use the robust Drosophila melanogaster ovary model to study how obesity affects oogenesis as it provides sophisticated genetic tools and well understood cell biology. Our group has previously demonstrated that the physiology of germline stem cells (GSCs) and their progeny is affected by adipocyte-specific manipulation and it was shown lipid metabolism is evolutionarily conserved between Drosophila and mammals. In this project, we manipulate fat metabolism in adipocytes and analyze the effects in the ovary to investigate the link between obesity and altered fertility. With this study, we will show the mechanism behind obesity as a cause of infertility and also hope to shed some light on the question “why some people show a metabolically health obesity condition”.

Biosketch

Rodrigo was born and grew up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After completing his undergraduate studies in Biology in 2006, Rodrigo joined the Master Program in the Department of Biochemistry within the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Brazil. In 2008, after acquiring his master’s degree, Rodrigo joined as a PhD student in the laboratory of Dr. Mario Silva-Neto (Department of Medical Biochemistry, UFRJ) where he focused his main project around the effects of the ingestion of secondary metabolites from plants, like polyphenols, in the physiology of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes and Dengue transmission. As his first postdoc, he joined the laboratory of Dr. Pedro Oliveira (UFRJ) where he collaborated with Dr. George Dimopoulos (Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Johns Hopkins University-JHU), focusing his main project in the amino acid metabolism of insects as a novel way to control the spread of diseases transmitted by them. Afterward, Rodrigo was invited by Dr. Marcelo Jacobs-Lorena (JHU) to work in a project about the discovery of novel proteins essential to Plasmodium fertilization (Malaria’s etiologic agent) and Dengue virus membrane fusion. As Dr. Jacobs-Lorena was planning to retire, in October 2018, Rodrigo joined the BMB department, laboratory of Dr. Daniela Drummond-Barbosa, to work in a project exploring the role of obesity in germline stem cells and fertility. Rodrigo has presented his work at numerous national and international conferences, mentored various undergraduate students and published several papers in the pursuing of a career in academic research.

Publications 

Nunes RD, Ventura-Martins G, Moretti DM, Medeiros-Castro P, Rocha-Santos C, Daumas-Filho CR, Bittencourt-Cunha PR, Martins-Cardoso K, Cudischevitch CO, Menna-Barreto RF, Oliveira JH, Gusmão DS, Alves Lemos FJ, Alviano DS, Oliveira PL, Lowenberger C, Majerowicz D, Oliveira RM, Mesquita RD, Atella GC, Silva-Neto MA. Polyphenol-Rich Diets Exacerbate AMPK-Mediated Autophagy, Decreasing Proliferation of Mosquito Midgut Microbiota, and Extending Vector Lifespan. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2016.

Awards/Honors

2014        Associate Chair, Gordon Research Seminar for Intermediate Filaments, Mount Snow, VT.

2018        American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)/Science Program for Excellence in Science award

2018        Postdoctoral Member of American Association for the Advancement of Science

2017-2018     CAPES National Postdoctoral Program (PNPD/CAPES) 5 years Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

2017       Invitation to teach the “Vector Biochemistry” course at Undergraduate’s academic week, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

2017       Conference Travel Award from Molecular and population biology of mosquitoes and other disease vectors, Kolymbari, Greece

2017       Member of Evaluation Committee to PhD program in Department of Parasitic Biology, FIOCRUZ, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

2015        Invitation to teach the “RNAi Application in Insects” course at XIX Annual Arthromint scientific meeting, Ilha Grande, Brazil

2014-2017   National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) 2 years Visiting Researcher Fellowship, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

2014       Member of Evaluation Committee of VII Graduates Week of Medical Biochemistry, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil                                    

2012-2014   National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) 2 years Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

2012       Member of Evaluation Committee of VI Graduates Week of Medical Biochemistry, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

2012       Member of Evaluation Committee to undergraduate achieve bachelor’s degree

               Candidate: Jean Ribeiro Moreira

               Title: Gluconeogenesis in the tick Rhipicephalus microplus

               Course: Biology – Specialization Genetics - Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Brazil.

2011       Member of Evaluation Committee to undergraduate achieve bachelor’s degree

               Candidate: Carolina Loyola Machado. 2011

               Title: Changes in the flight muscle mitochondrial functions of Aedes triggered by food ingestion

              Course: Biology – Specialization Genetics - Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Brazil.

2010      Invitation to teach the “Vector Biology” course at Undergraduate’s academic week,   Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

2008-2012    National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) 4 years PhD Research fellowship, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

2008      Member of Evaluation Committee to undergraduate achieve bachelor’s degree

              Candidate: Roman Wladyslaw Brocki Neto

             Title: Aedes albopictus movement from the forest to the anthropic environment

             Course: Biomedical Science - Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro (UNIRIO), Brazil.

2006-2008     Coordination of Improvement of Higher-Level Personnel (CAPES) 2 years Master Research Fellowship, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

2003-2006     National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) 3 years Undergraduate Research Fellowship, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.