Ana Santos Almeida – MSCA Fellow
Dr Ana Santos Almeida received her Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology in 2008 from the University of Medicine in Lisbon, Portugal. She was then granted a doctoral fellowship from the Portuguese government to perform her PhD in Prof. Sansonetti’s laboratory at Institut Pasteur, in France, where she studied the mechanisms by which bacteria interact and subvert the immune system to promote disease. In 2013, she joined Dr. Egeblad’s laboratory at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, in New York, where she worked with pre-clinical mouse models of breast and pancreatic cancer and used state-of-the-art intravital imaging to follow the hijacked immune response in real-time. In 2016, Dr Almeida moved to Cork to join Prof. Paul O’Toole’s group to develop a project on the mechanisms by which tumor-associated microbiota alter immune function and influence clinical outcome in colorectal cancer. She was granted the Marie Curie Individual Fellowship in 2017.
Project title: IMMUNO-CRC: Microbiota-immune interaction in colorectal cancer
PI: Professor Paul O’Toole
Year of award: 2017
Description of the project: Colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers in humans, with nearly 1.4 million new cases diagnosed globally in 2012. Moreover, advanced colorectal cancer has a high mortality rate, and is one of the top three cancer killers in men and women worldwide. Significant risk factors for colorectal cancer include diets rich in fat and red meat, obesity, and chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, which are closely associated with changes in the gut microbiota. The gut microbiota is the name given to the sum of the ‘good’ microbes living in our intestine, which have co-evolved to play important roles in health and disease. An altered gut microbiota composition has been associated with colorectal cancer. However, it is not known precisely how a person’s individual gut microbiota type relates to risks and causative mechanisms for developing colorectal cancer, which is essential information to develop diagnostics and therapeutics. The goal of this project is to understand how certain gut microbiota groups, identified in colorectal cancer patients, may alter immune function and influence clinical outcome. This work will increase the understanding of how the microbiota-host interaction influences the development of cancer, which will be key for designing future cancer prevention and treatment strategies targeting the gut microbiota.