João Ricardo Mendes Oliveira

Fellow: Awarded 2010

Field of Study: Neuroscience

Competition: Latin America & Caribbean

Dr. João Ricardo Mendes de Oliveira, M.D., Ph.D., was born in 1974, Recife, Brazil. Since 1992, when he was an undergraduate, Dr Oliveira is studying genetic risk factors for several neuropsychiatric conditions such as Alzheimer´s disease, schizophrenia, muscular dystrophies, and mood disorders. He worked at the UCLA, between 2001 and 2004, as a postdoctoral Fellow in Neurogenetics and Pharmacogenomics, funded by the NIH.

Since 2005, he is a tenured Professor in Neuropsychiatry at the Federal University of Pernambuco, Recife, and holds a research fellowship from the Brazilian National Research Council (CNPq, Brasília, Brazil) since 2009.

Dr. Oliveira is an advisor for the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD), in Connecticut, and is also a member of the Journal of Molecular Neuroscience Editorial Board, and coordinates the Mental Health Clinics at the Federal University of Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil.

He published more than thirty articles and letters to the editor in journals like Molecular Psychiatry, Nature, Science, and the American Journal of Human Genetics.
Dr. Oliveira is currently interested in combining studies of genetics, bioinformatics, and neuroimaging to define the limits of penetrance for genetic variations and the actual brain resilience to common inherited lesions, such as basal ganglia calcifications. This is why to study "Fahr´s Disease" as a model for such a paradigm is the main focus of his career right now.

Familial idiopathic basal ganglia calcification, also known as “Fahr´s Disease” is a devastating disorder, characterized by heterogeneous neuropsychiatric symptoms such as parkinsonism, psychosis, dementia, and mood swings. To understand the molecular basis of such condition might also help to better diagnosis and treat disorders like Parkinson´s disease, schizophrenia, Alzheimer´s disease, and major depression.

Dr. João Ricardo Mendes de Oliveira, M.D., Ph.D., discusses his experience as a Guggenheim Fellowship recipient in the July 6 issue of Science magazine.