João Relvas / Neuroscience

I have conducted my doctoral studies in molecular genetics at the university of London and Lisbon (1992-1997), and post-doctoral work at the university of Cambridge, UK (1997-2002). I was an independent junior group research leader at the Institute for Cell Biology of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, CH (2002-2008), and later joined the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IBMC), which is now part of the Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde (i3S) (, in Porto, Portugal. There, I head the glial cell biology lab, the Integrative program in Neurobiology and Neurological Disorders, and I am a member of the Board of Directors. I am also an  invited associate professor of biomedicine at the faculty of medicine of the university of Porto. 

My lab aims at better understanding the molecular mechanisms by which glial cells contribute to nervous system homeostasis and for the onset and progression of neurological disease. Glial cells include oligodendrocytes, astrocytes and microglia in the central nervous system, and Schwann cells in the peripheral nervous system. Over the past few years it has been progressively recognized that understanding the functioning of the nervous system means to grasp the complexity of mechanisms regulating neuron-glia crosstalk in health and disease.  Walking down this path has led to unexpected findings that challenge our long-held neuron-centric view of the brain, of ageing and of neurological disease. The realization that glia dysfunction can have a causative role in several neuropathologies, triggered what some authors have called a “Copernican revolution” in the Neurosciences, and fueled an explosive interest in glia and in the mechanisms controlling their physiology.  

Besides academic science  I participate regularly in different outreach activities in high schools and universities and in public debates for discussing scientific issues. I have been involved in the organization of workshops, exhibitions, and national and international conferences in areas related to the Neurosciences or in the interface between the Neurosciences and the Humanities.