Dr Catarina De Matos Ferraz Franco PhD

Research Associate HLS Technology Directorate


Personal Statement

For as long as I remember I have been interested in Natural Sciences. My childhood friends would probably describe me as the talented “mother scream inducer”, as I would always carry around my favourite small wooden bug collection box and an awesome human anatomy skeleton model.

I proceeded with my passion for science and after my BsC in Biochemistry I started as research assistant at ITQB-UNL (Portugal) Mass Spectrometry Laboratory. During a 3-year period I was involved in different research projects that allowed me to obtain experience in different proteomic and mass spectrometry tools.

In 2007 I started my Ph.D. in Biochemistry in a research field that had always intrigued me - Why do some animals have amazing regenerative capabilities while others do not?! Being puzzled by the weird looking echinoderms - the masters of regeneration in the Deuterostome clade, I investigated which cellular pathways regulate starfish outstanding ability for tissue regeneration. Gel based proteomics and mass spectrometry tools showed that regeneration events were being timely regulated by complex protein posttranslational modification events.

In 2012, as a young Postdoctoral researcher I was “lucky” enough to get my first research grant funded from the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology to pursue my studies on starfish regeneration. As money brings happiness (at least in science), being a Fulbright awardee gave me the exciting opportunity to embark in an amazing adventure across the Atlantic as a Visiting Researcher at the Proteome Exploration Laboratory, Beckman Institute, Caltech. Together with Dr Sonja Hess’s team’s cutting edge expertise in mass spectrometry we explored the regeneration impact on the nervous system proteome of the first starfish to have its genome sequenced.

As a young researcher taking the first steps towards independence I started to feel often pulled away from bench time. It gradually became clear that I wanted to pursue a career as a “happy lab rat” using state-of-the-art mass spectrometry to answer stimulating questions across different fields of biology – A niche that I fortunately found in the Centre for Proteome Research. As I am currently funded by the Technology Directorate I will be working with a multitude of interesting external collaboration projects ranging from protein identification to discovery proteomics.

I am currently funded by the Technology Directorate to work at the Shared Research Facility in the Centre for Proteome Research where I am fortunate to work with a multitude of interesting projects ranging from protein identification/quantification to discovery proteomics.