Carolina Ruivinho, MSc. student, and Cláudia Estima, PhD student, both from the RNA Systems Biology Lab, led by Margarida Gama-Carvalho, at the Gene Expression and Regulation Group, were distinguished, respectively, with the Prof. Dr. Amândio Sampaio Tavares award for the best oral communication (ex-aequo); and the best poster award in the Biomedical Genetics session and the Prof. Luís Archer award for the best poster communication (ex-aequo). The awards were attributed in the 3rd International Meeting of the Portuguese Society of Genetics, that took place last 27 and 28 June, in Évora.

Carolina presented her MSc. thesis research, entitled “Functional characterization of putative miRNA-like sequences encoded in the HIV genome”. In this work, the young scientist aims at validating the existence of micro-RNAs (miRNAs) produced by the HIV-1 and HIV-2 genome. By validating the existence of those molecules and understanding their role in the HIV genome, new doors will be open when it comes to develop current therapies for the disease.

Claúdia shared with the scientific community her important insights in the regulatory pathway of a given miRNA (miR-34-5p) in HIV-1 infection, in a work called “Modulation of HIV-1 replication and latency by miR-34c-5p”, on which the researcher developed critical molecular tools to understand that molecule role in the disease, that may lead to novel therapeutic strategies against HIV.

The overall evaluation is very positive for the young researchers: “This award substantiates the work that I have done during the first year of my PhD, indicating that I am in the right path”, says Cláudia. Carolina, in turn, adds that: “As a master’s student the mere opportunity of presenting my work at a conference was a huge pride. The award was important because it gave me even more certainty that doing research and sharing it with the community is the path I want to follow after my master’s degree.”

Now that the meeting is over, it is time to go back to the lab and keep working to produce great Science. The awards received are, indeed, a motivation for the two scientists, as they point out. While Carolina reminds us that “In science, we can’t always get the results we want or when we want and that can be frustrating, but it’s when we share our work and see the impact it can have that we gain new motivation”, Cláudia shares that “[the award] reminds me that even if sometimes progress during a PhD seems very slow and hard, passion and hard work will always lead us to great outcomes”.

Discover the research developed at the Gene Expression and Regulation Group here.

Find out more about the 3rd International Meeting of the Portuguese Society of Genetics here.

From left to right: Carolina Ruivinho and Cláudia Estima [photo provided by the researchers].