Published: 11-11-2021 11:43 | Updated: 11-11-2021 13:50

Hello Gonçalo Castelo-Branco, new Professor of Glial Cell Biology

portrait of Gonçalo Castelo-Branco outside Karolinska Institutet, Biomedicum.
Gonçalo Castelo-Branco, Professor at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, and affiliated with the Ming Wai Lau Centre for Reparative Medicine. Photo: Erik Flyg.

Hello Gonçalo Castelo Branco, newly appointed Professor of Glial Cell Biology at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics. Tell us, what is your research all about?

"Our research group focuses on the molecular mechanisms regulating the transcriptional and epigenomic states of oligodendrocyte lineage cells, one of the major glial cell types, in neural development but also in neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS)."

What is the next step in your research?

"Our lab found recently that oligodendrocyte lineage cells can transition to an immune-competent state in the context of inflammatory environments as in multiple sclerosis. We want to investigate how and when these transitions happen, particularly at an epigenomic level, and what is the functional relevance of these transitions for the etiology and possible treatment of MS. But science always drives you in unexpected paths, so we will see…"

What does your promotion to professor mean to you?

"I am very happy that I am now a Professor at KI. I think it will open new possibilities in terms of research and other areas, for which I am very excited and looking forward to. When KI opens a Professorship in a specific area, KI is making a commitment that this is an area of interest for KI, both in the present and in the future. I am very eager to contribute to create an environment that fosters research in glial cell biology at KI."

What’s your dream achievement or goal?

"My research is driven by curiosity, so the goal is always moving, as we discover new things along the way.  But a dream would be that our research contributes to the development of novel effective therapies to tackle multiple sclerosis."

What was your dream job as a kid?

"First I think it was to be a professional football player in my favorite team FC Porto, but in my teens I really wanted to be a music journalist, so I could spread the word about the indie music I listened to (have you seen the film Almost Famous?). I guess I get to do a bit of that when I tweet about the music I listen to when we are preparing our scientific publications…"