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Claudia Mendes

C. A.


Postdoctoral Research Scientist

When we look carefully at the natural world, we cannot help but notice the wonder of living things. From the astonishing beauty and diversity of species that inhabit even some of the most inhospitable places on Earth to the spectacular and intricate machinery of the cells that can only be appreciated at the molecular level. But, how did such diversity and complexity come to be?

My eagerness to solve this mystery had led me to become an evolutionary and developmental biologist (2008 BSc, 2010 MSc). In particular, I am interested in understanding the mechanistic basis of phenotypic diversity, in particular those generating variation in the size and shape of animal bodies and organs, and how these traits evolve.

During my PhD (2011-2015), developed with Dr. Christen Mirth and Dr. Élio Sucena, at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (Portugal), I explored how growth and differentiation during ovary development are modified by larval nutrition in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, and compare whether similar cellular and developmental changes account for differences in ovary size between Drosophila mojavensis subspecies.

From 2016-2018, I conducted my first postdoctoral research project with Prof. Alistair McGregor and Dr. Maria Daniela Nunes in Oxford Brookes University (UK), where I investigated the genetic and developmental bases underlying variation in the size and shape of the external male genitalia between two closely related Drosophila species, D. simulans and D. mauritiana.

I recently became interested on how tissues and organs lose the ability to control their growth, which is one of the hallmarks of tumour initiation and progression. In 2018, I joined the Wilson group in collaboration with the Goberdhan group at the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics (UK). My research project aims to dissect the mechanisms regulating the formation and secretion of small extracellular vesicles, known as exosomes, using an in vivo model for prostate and prostate cancer in flies, and to extend such knowledge into human cancer cells.