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João Peça (40M) is a neurobiologist with more than 15 years of research experience. Presently, he is Assistant Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Coimbra and Group Leader of the Neuronal Circuits and Behavior Lab. João completed his Ph.D. at Duke University in 2011, where he created the first transgenic mice for channelrhodopsin-2 and pioneered the field of optogenetics. He did his postdoc at MIT characterizing animal models for autism, where he uncovered a new role for cortico-striatal dysfunction in autism spectrum disorders. In 2013 he was awarded a position as "FCT Investigator" in Portugal and in 2018 was offered a position as Principal Investigator to start an independent group at the Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra. He has completed the supervision of 5 Ph.D. students' thesis and the supervision of 11 M.Sc. students. He is/was Principal investigator/Scientist-in-charge in 9 projects, co-PI in 6, and member of the research team in 2 research projects. Present interests of his group center on using advanced models to understand how genetic and environmental elements risk factors translate to neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders. To achieve this, João uses a combination of molecular genetics, optogenetics and electrophysiological approaches using animal models and human brain organoids. To date his work has accrued >3600 citations and has led to primary research papers in high-impact, peer-reviewed journals, including Nature, Nature Communications, Molecular Psychiatry, PNAS, and Neuron, and review work in Current Opinion in Neurobiology, Cell and Annual Reviews in Neuroscience. He was awarded a Marie Curie Career Integration Grant, a NARSAD Young Investigator Award, and a prize from the Gulbenkian Foundation. In 2020 he received an IBRO Early Career Award. His recent work was also acknowledged with the "2019 Pfizer Prize" in Basic Research, the oldest and one of the most prestigious prizes in Portugal in the area of Biomedical Sciences. His group is composed of 5 PhD holding members and is funded by grants and awards from FCT, H2020, Bial Foundation, Takeda, IBRO, Pfizer and is also the coordinator of the ERA-Net Neuron Project "SHANKAstro".
Identification

Personal identification

Full name
João Peça

Citation names

  • Peça, João

Author identifiers

Ciência ID
2516-567A-D39A
ORCID iD
0000-0003-4989-2129

Email addresses

  • jmpessa@gmail.com (Professional)
  • jpeca@uc.pt (Professional)

Telephones

Telephone
  • 304502912 (Professional)

Addresses

  • Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, Rua Larga, FMUC, 205b, 3004-504, Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal (Professional)

Websites

  • www.pecalab.com (Scholar)
  • https://pt.linkedin.com/in/jo%C3%A3o-pe%C3%A7a-6a8b89a (Professional)

Knowledge fields

  • Medical and Health Sciences - Basic Medicine - Neurosciences

Languages

Language Speaking Reading Writing Listening Peer-review
Portuguese (Mother tongue)
English Proficiency (C2) Proficiency (C2) Proficiency (C2) Proficiency (C2) Proficiency (C2)
Education
Degree Classification
2013
Concluded
Postdoctoral Fellow (Postgraduate Certificate)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States
2011
Concluded
Neurobiology (Doutoramento)
Universidade de Coimbra Faculdade de Ciencias e Tecnologia, Portugal

Duke University, United States
"Genetic and optogenetic engineering as a strategy to probe neuronal circuits" (THESIS/DISSERTATION)
Com Distinção e Louvor | Summa cum laude
2004
Concluded
Bioquímica (Licenciatura)
Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal
Affiliation

Science

Category
Host institution
Employer
2018/02/01 - 2019/08/31 Principal Investigator (Research) Universidade de Coimbra Centro de Neurociências e Biologia Celular, Portugal
Universidade de Coimbra Centro de Neurociências e Biologia Celular, Portugal
2013/07/01 - 2018/01/31 Auxiliary Researcher (Research) Universidade de Coimbra Centro de Neurociências e Biologia Celular, Portugal
2011/03/11 - 2013/12/31 Postdoc (Research) Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States
2005/06/01 - 2011/03/11 Visiting Researcher (Research) Duke University, United States

Teaching in Higher Education

Category
Host institution
Employer
2019/09/01 - Current Assistant Professor (University Teacher) Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal
2018 - 2019/08/31 Invited Assistant Professor (University Teacher) Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal

Positions / Appointments

Category
Host institution
Employer
2022 - Current Member of the Board of Education for Neurasmus: the European Master in Neuroscience Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal
Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal
2021/09/15 - Current Coordinator of the Master Degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal
Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal
2020/09/22 - Current Member of the Board of Directors Universidade de Coimbra Centro de Neurociências e Biologia Celular, Portugal
Universidade de Coimbra Centro de Neurociências e Biologia Celular, Portugal

Others

Category
Host institution
Employer
2018/02/01 - Current Group Leader Universidade de Coimbra Centro de Neurociências e Biologia Celular, Portugal
Universidade de Coimbra Centro de Neurociências e Biologia Celular, Portugal
Projects

Grant

Designation Funders
2023 - Current Th2brain: Effects of Th2-related immunity in the postnatal maturation of brain circuits
2022.02604.PTDC
Researcher
Universidade de Coimbra Centro de Neurociências e Biologia Celular, Portugal
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia
Ongoing
2022 - Current SHANKAstro: Astrocytes dysfunctions in Phelan-McDermid syndrome: from mechanisms towards new therapeutic strategies
Principal investigator
Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal
European Commission
Ongoing
2022 - Current BrainCils: Neuronal primary cilia and chromatin dysregulation - Exploring the missing link in neurodevelopmental disorders using brain organoids
EXPL/MED-OUT/1470/2021
Researcher
Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia
Ongoing
2021 - Current Postnatal Reorganization of the cerebellum via Neuron-microglia interaction: IL-4 as a mediator between ADHD and allergies
PTDC/MED-NEU/5993/2020
Co-PI
Universidade de Coimbra Centro de Neurociências e Biologia Celular, Portugal
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia
Ongoing
2021 - Current The social code in cingulate-hippocampal circuits
#074/2020
Co-PI
Universidade de Coimbra Centro de Neurociências e Biologia Celular, Portugal
Fundação Bial
Ongoing
2020 - Current IBRO Early Carrer Award - Deficits in mGluR activity in GPRASP2 mutant mice
ECA
Principal investigator
Universidade de Coimbra Centro de Neurociências e Biologia Celular, Portugal
International Brain Research Organization
Ongoing
2020 - Current A Saúde no Saber
45-2019/478
Researcher
Universidade de Coimbra Centro de Neurociências e Biologia Celular, Portugal
Ciência Viva
Ongoing
2021 - 2022 NeuroCompute: Exploring the missing link between neuronal primary cilia dysfunction and neurophysiological properties using brain organoids and computational modelling
NeuroCompute
Researcher
Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal
Universidade de Coimbra
Concluded
2019 - 2022 Syn2Psy - Synaptic Dysfunction in Neuropsychiatric Disorders
Researcher
Universidade de Coimbra Centro de Neurociências e Biologia Celular, Portugal
EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions
Ongoing
2018 - 2021/09/30 Alternate SNAPs in neurotransmitter release: from molecular function to neurocognitive dysfunction
PTDC/BIA-CEL/29451/2017
Co-PI
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia
Ongoing
2018 - 2021/06/30 Cognitive disorders as defects in synaptic function: insight from human mutations in the CACNG2 gene
PTDC/MED-NEU/28541/2017
Co-PI
Universidade de Coimbra Centro de Neurociências e Biologia Celular, Portugal
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia
Ongoing
2018 - 2021/06 BrainEdition: remotely controlling gene edition in neural stem cells
PTDC/NAN-MAT/28060/2017
Researcher
Universidade de Coimbra Centro de Neurociências e Biologia Celular, Portugal
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia
Ongoing
2018 - 2020 ProTeAN - Production and Testing of humAn-derived Neurons and brain organoids: advanced model probing in neurodevelopmental disorders
MSCA-IF-EF-RI-799164
Supervisor
European Commission
Ongoing
2017 - 2020 BrainHealth2020: Early Detection, Neuromodulation and Advanced Therapies to Brain Disorders
CENTRO-01-0145-FEDER-000008
Researcher
Universidade de Coimbra Centro de Neurociências e Biologia Celular, Portugal
CENTRO2020

FEDER - Fundo Europeu de Desenvolvimento Regional
2018 - 2019/09 Exploring striatal postsynaptic SAPAP3 in Huntington’s disease
Grant Number: 948
Researcher
Universidade de Coimbra Centro de Neurociências e Biologia Celular, Portugal
EHDN-European Huntington’s Disease Network
Concluded
2017 - 2019 Early life stress and social hierarchies: the role of cortico-striatal circuits
216/16
Principal investigator
Universidade de Coimbra Centro de Neurociências e Biologia Celular, Portugal
Fundação Bial
Concluded
2017 - 2019 The influence of maternal bonding in neuroimmune synaptic sculpting
264/2016
Researcher
Universidade de Coimbra Centro de Neurociências e Biologia Celular, Portugal
Fundação Bial
2016 - 2019 Social hierarchy and early life adversity: optogenetic modulation of prefrontal cortical circuits and neuroepigenetic regulation
PTDC/NEU-SCC/3247/2014
Principal investigator
Secretaria de Estado de Ciência Tecnologia e Ensino Superior
Concluded
2014 - 2017 NARSAD Young Investigator Grant
20733
Principal investigator
Brain and Behavior Research Foundation
2013 - 2017 CELLSYNCIRCUITS: Cellular and synaptic dissection of the neuronal circuits of social and autistic behavior
PCIG13-GA-2013-618525
Principal investigator
Universidade de Coimbra Centro de Neurociências e Biologia Celular, Portugal
EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions
2011 - 2012 Autism Speaks Translational Fellow: Neural circuits of social behavior
7649
Principal investigator
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States
Concluded

Contract

Designation Funders
2021 - Current Does healthy microglia rescue neuroinflammation and synaptic dysfunction in human cerebral organoids with FTD-associated mutations?
2020_119
Co-PI
Universidade de Coimbra Centro de Neurociências e Biologia Celular, Portugal
Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited
Cancelled

Other

Designation Funders
2019 - Current Pfizer Award 2019 in Basic Research
Principal investigator
Universidade de Coimbra Centro de Neurociências e Biologia Celular, Portugal
Pfizer Portugal
Ongoing
2013 - 2018 FCT Investigator Award
IF/00812/2012/CP0151/CT0001
Principal investigator
Universidade de Coimbra Centro de Neurociências e Biologia Celular, Portugal
Concluded
2016 - 2017 AidToC - Ab initio designed Tools for optogenetic Control of retinal circuits
141733
Supervisor
Universidade de Coimbra Centro de Neurociências e Biologia Celular, Portugal
Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian
Concluded
2013 - 2014/12/31 PROJECTO ESTRATÉGICO - LA 1 - 2013-2014 PEst-C/SAU/LA0001/2013
Pest-C/SAU/LA0001/2013-2014
Researcher
CNC.IBILI, Portugal
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia
Outputs

Publications

Book chapter
  1. Rodrigues, Artur Filipe; Rebelo, Catarina; Reis, Tiago; Sousa, João André; Pinho, Sónia L. C.; Sargento-Freitas, João; Peça, João; Ferreira, Lino. "Therapeutic Approaches for Stroke: A Biomaterials Perspective". In Engineering Biomaterials for Neural Applications, 185-218. Springer International Publishing, 2021.
    10.1007/978-3-030-81400-7_8
  2. Peça, João. "The Social Brain". In Cérebro – mais vasto que o céu. Lisboa: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, 2019.
    Published
  3. Caldeira, Gladys; Carvalho, Ana Luísa; Peça, João. "Schizophrenia". In Neurociências, edited by Duarte, Carlos; Rego, Cristina. Portugal: Lidel, 2017.
    Published
  4. Fernandes, Joana; Franco, Lara; Peça, João. "Autism Spectrum Disorders". In Neurociências, edited by Duarte, Carlos; Rego, Cristina; Oliveira, Catarina. Portugal: Lidel, 2017.
    Published
  5. Heyer, M.P.; Feliciano, C.; Peca, J.; Feng, G.. "Elucidating Gene Function through use of Genetically Engineered Mice". In Genomics. Wiley Online Books, 2010.
    10.1002/9780470711675.ch10
Conference paper
  1. Costa, Jéssica; Guedes, Joana; Franco, Lara; Peça, João; Cardoso, Ana Luísa. "Microglia morphology and density analysis: using stereology and 3D reconstruction to study the neuroimmune impact of early life stress". Paper presented in Paper presented in 52th International Congress on Microscopy and Microanalysis, Coimbra, 2018.
  2. Viegas, Ana Teresa; Carmona, Vítor; Almeida, Luis; Oliveira, Catarina Resende; Magalhães, João; Peça, João; Cardoso, Ana Luísa. "MicroRNA contribution in a new therapeutic strategy for Alzheimer’s disease". Paper presented in The 2016 Alzheimer’s Disease Congress, London, 2016.
Journal article
  1. Joana R. Guedes; Pedro A. Ferreira; Jéssica M. Costa; Ana L. Cardoso; João Peça. "Microglia-dependent remodeling of neuronal circuits". Journal of Neurochemistry (2022): https://doi.org/10.1111/jnc.15689.
    10.1111/jnc.15689
  2. Ana Rafaela Oliveira; Solange Martins; Giuseppe Cammarata; Mariana Martins; Ana Maria Cardoso; Maria Rosário Almeida; Maria do Carmo Macário; et al. "Generation and Characterization of Novel iPSC Lines from a Portuguese Family Bearing Heterozygous and Homozygous GRN Mutations". Biomedicines (2022): https://doi.org/10.3390/biomedicines10081905.
    10.3390/biomedicines10081905
  3. Rebelo, Catarina; Reis, Tiago; Guedes, Joana; Saraiva, Cláudia; Rodrigues, Artur Filipe; Simões, Susana; Bernardino, Liliana; et al. "Efficient spatially targeted gene editing using a near-infrared activatable protein-conjugated nanoparticle for brain applications". Nature Communications 13 1 (2022): http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-31791-6.
    10.1038/s41467-022-31791-6
  4. Caldeira, Gladys Lima; Inácio, Ângela; Beltrão, Nuno; Barreto, Carlos A. V.; Ventura Rodrigues, Marina; Rondão, Tiago; Macedo, Renato; et al. "Aberrant hippocampal transmission and behavior in mice with a stargazin mutation linked to intellectual disability". Molecular Psychiatry (2022): https://www.nature.com/articles/s41380-022-01487-w.
    Published
  5. Jéssica Costa; Solange Martins; Pedro A. Ferreira; Ana M.S. Cardoso; Joana R. Guedes; João Peça; Ana L. Cardoso. "The old guard: Age-related changes in microglia and their consequences". Mechanisms of Ageing and Development 197 (2021): 111512-111512. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mad.2021.111512.
    10.1016/j.mad.2021.111512
  6. Sequeira, Diana B.; Oliveira, Ana Rafaela; Seabra, Catarina M.; Palma, Paulo J.; Ramos, Carlos; Figueiredo, Maria H.; Santos, Ana C.; et al. "Regeneration of pulp-dentin complex using human stem cells of the apical papilla: in vivo interaction with two bioactive materials". Clinical Oral Investigations (2021): http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00784-021-03840-9.
    10.1007/s00784-021-03840-9
  7. Ribeiro, Luís F.; Catarino, Tatiana; Carvalho, Mário; Cortes, Luísa; Santos, Sandra D.; Opazo, Patricio O.; Ribeiro, Lyn Rosenbrier; et al. "Ligand-independent activity of the ghrelin receptor modulates AMPA receptor trafficking and supports memory formation". Science Signaling 14 670 (2021): eabb1953. http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/scisignal.abb1953.
    10.1126/scisignal.abb1953
  8. Li, Yinqing; Lopez-Huerta, Violeta G.; Adiconis, Xian; Levandowski, Kirsten; Choi, Soonwook; Simmons, Sean K.; Arias-Garcia, Mario A.; et al. "Distinct subnetworks of the thalamic reticular nucleus". Nature 583 7818 (2020): 819-824. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2504-5.
    10.1038/s41586-020-2504-5
  9. Franco, Lara O.; Carvalho, Mário J.; Costa, Jéssica; Ferreira, Pedro A.; Guedes, Joana R.; Sousa, Renato; Edfawy, Mohamed; et al. "Social subordination induced by early life adversity rewires inhibitory control of the prefrontal cortex via enhanced Npy1r signaling". Neuropsychopharmacology 45 9 (2020): 1438-1447. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41386-020-0727-7.
    Open access • 10.1038/s41386-020-0727-7
  10. Barros-Viegas, Ana Teresa; Carmona, Vítor; Ferreiro, Elisabete; Guedes, Joana; Cardoso, Ana Maria; Cunha, Pedro; Pereira de Almeida, Luís; et al. "miRNA-31 Improves Cognition and Abolishes Amyloid-ß Pathology by Targeting APP and BACE1 in an Animal Model of Alzheimer’s Disease". Molecular Therapy - Nucleic Acids 19 (2020): 1219-1236. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.omtn.2020.01.010.
    Open access • 10.1016/j.omtn.2020.01.010
  11. Lima Caldeira, Gladys; Peça, João; Carvalho, Ana Luísa. "New insights on synaptic dysfunction in neuropsychiatric disorders". Current Opinion in Neurobiology 57 (2019): 62-70. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.conb.2019.01.004.
    10.1016/j.conb.2019.01.004
  12. Edfawy, Mohamed; Guedes, Joana R.; Pereira, Marta I.; Laranjo, Mariana; Carvalho, Mário J.; Gao, Xian; Ferreira, Pedro A.; et al. "Abnormal mGluR-mediated synaptic plasticity and autism-like behaviours in Gprasp2 mutant mice". Nature Communications 10 1 (2019): http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-09382-9.
    10.1038/s41467-019-09382-9
  13. Sequeira, Diana; Seabra, Catarina; Palma, Paulo; Cardoso, Ana; Peça, João; Santos, João. "Effects of a New Bioceramic Material on Human Apical Papilla Cells". Journal of Functional Biomaterials 9 4 (2018): 74. http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/jfb9040074.
    10.3390/jfb9040074
  14. Santos, Tiago; Ferreira, Raquel; Quartin, Emanuel; Boto, Carlos; Saraiva, Cláudia; Bragança, José; Peça, João; et al. "Blue light potentiates neurogenesis induced by retinoic acid-loaded responsive nanoparticles". Acta Biomaterialia 59 (2017): 293-302. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.actbio.2017.06.044.
    Published • 10.1016/j.actbio.2017.06.044
  15. Ting, Jonathan T.*; Peça, João*; Feng, Guoping. "Functional Consequences of Mutations in Postsynaptic Scaffolding Proteins and Relevance to Psychiatric Disorders". Annual Review of Neuroscience 35 1 (2012): 49-71. http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-neuro-062111-150442.
    10.1146/annurev-neuro-062111-150442
  16. Peça, J.; Feng, G.. "Cellular and synaptic network defects in autism". Current Opinion in Neurobiology 22 5 (2012): 866-872. http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?eid=2-s2.0-84867426528&partnerID=MN8TOARS.
    10.1016/j.conb.2012.02.015
  17. Peça, J.; Ting, J.; Feng, G.. "SnapShot: Autism and the synapse". Cell 147 3 (2011): http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?eid=2-s2.0-84855174133&partnerID=MN8TOARS.
    10.1016/j.cell.2011.10.015
  18. Peça, J.; Feng, G.. "Neuroscience: When lights take the circuits out". Nature 477 7363 (2011): 165-166. http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?eid=2-s2.0-80052602669&partnerID=MN8TOARS.
    10.1038/477165a
  19. Peça, J.; Feliciano, C.; Ting, J.T.; Wang, W.; Wells, M.F.; Venkatraman, T.N.; Lascola, C.D.; Fu, Z.; Feng, G.. "Shank3 mutant mice display autistic-like behaviours and striatal dysfunction". Nature 472 7344 (2011): 437-442. http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?eid=2-s2.0-79955536349&partnerID=MN8TOARS.
    10.1038/nature09965
  20. Arenkiel, Benjamin R.; Peça, João. "Using Light to Reinstate Respiratory Plasticity". Journal of Neurophysiology 101 4 (2009): 1695-1698. http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/jn.00009.2009.
    Open access • 10.1152/jn.00009.2009
  21. Welch, Jeffrey M.; Lu, Jing; Rodriguiz, Ramona M.; Trotta, Nicholas C.; Peca, Joao; Ding, Jin-Dong; Feliciano, Catia; et al. "Cortico-striatal synaptic defects and OCD-like behaviours in Sapap3-mutant mice". Nature 448 7156 (2007): 894-900. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature06104.
    10.1038/nature06104
  22. Wang, H.*; Peca, J.*; Matsuzaki, M.*; Matsuzaki, K.; Noguchi, J.; Qiu, L.; Wang, D.; et al. "High-speed mapping of synaptic connectivity using photostimulation in Channelrhodopsin-2 transgenic mice". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104 19 (2007): 8143-8148. http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0700384104.
    Open access • 10.1073/pnas.0700384104
  23. Arenkiel, Benjamin R.; Peca, Joao; Davison, Ian G.; Feliciano, Catia; Deisseroth, Karl; Augustine, George J.; Ehlers, Michael D.; Feng, Guoping. "In Vivo Light-Induced Activation of Neural Circuitry in Transgenic Mice Expressing Channelrhodopsin-2". Neuron 54 2 (2007): 205-218. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2007.03.005.
    Open access • Published • 10.1016/j.neuron.2007.03.005
Journal issue
  1. Xu, Junyu; Shi, Lei; Peça, João. "Autism Spectrum Disorder: New Insights Into Molecular Pathophysiology and Therapeutic Development". Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience (2020):
    Published
Thesis / Dissertation
  1. Peça, João. "Genetic and optogenetic engineering as a strategy to probe neuronal circuits". PhD, 2011.
Distinctions

Award

2022 2022 Teaching Innovation Award
Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal

Banco Santander Portugal, Portugal
2022 Special Recognition - Science
World Cultural Council, Switzerland
2020 IBRO Early Career Award
International Brain Research Organization, France
2020 FENS-IBRO/PERC
Federation of European Neuroscience Societies, Belgium
2019 Prizer Prize
Pfizer Portugal, Portugal
2014 NARSAD Young Investigator Award
Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, United States

Title

2013 FCT Investigator
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, Portugal
2011 Autism Speaks Translational Fellow
Autism Speaks, United States