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Project description: Basic research on visual psychophysics. The research will involve visual testing of people. The tests will consist of contrast sensitivity and visual evoked potentials.             

Site mentors: Dr. Givago Souza

Recent MHIRT Project Titles (Belem):

  • 2017: Effect of Luminance Noise on Color Discrimination.
  • 2016: Visual Evoked Potential for Luminance Contrast Masked by Color Noise. 
  • 2015: The Use of a New Color Test for Chromatic Discrimination and Luminance Noise Comparison in Normal and Color Deficient Subjects Measured with Pseudoisochromatic Stimuli. 
  • 2014: Low Number of Luminance Levels in the Luminance Noise Increases Color Discrimination Thresholds Estimated with Pseudoisochromatic Stimuli. 


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Project description: Clinical-based research on genetic mutations which predispose people to certain forms of cancer. The project includes observations of genetic testing and psychological screenings, as well as doing lab tests on patient samples.

Site mentors: Dr. Bonald Figueiredo, Pequeno Principe Research Institute

Recent MHIRT Project Titles (Curitiba):

  • 2017: Psychological Impact of Genetic Testing for Cancer Risk


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Project description: Basic research on anxiety and memory acquisition. Use of neuropharmacology to investigate anxiety and memory. May include testing done with live rats or rat samples.

Mentor: Dr. Antonio Padua Carobrez, Department of Pharmacology, University of Santa Catarina, Santa Catarina Island

Recent MHIRT Project Titles:

  • 2017: Effects of Beta-Adrenergic Antagonists on Fear-Induced Behavior Rats.
  • 2015: Effects of Beta Blockers on Isoprenaline Fear Conditioned Rats.  
  • 2014: Effects of Systemic Injections of Nonselective Beta-adrenergic Agonist Isoprenaline on Fear Conditioning in Rats.
  • 2013: Interaction between Dorsolateral Periaqueductal Gray and Glucocorticoids in Formation of Aversive Memories.


Project description: Aquatic environmental science: Expression of heat shock proteins in aquatic invertebrates as an environmental pollution indicator. Using heat shock protein expression in either bivalves or shrimp as a bioindicator of environmental pollution. Techniques used include Western blots of tissue obtained from shrimp or bivalues that have been exposed to heavy metals. Includes work with invertebrate species.

Mentor: Dr. Maria Risoletta Marques, Department of Biochemistry, University of Santa Catarina, Santa Catarina Island

Recent MHIRT Project Titles: 

  • 2017: Assessing Genetic Variability of a Population of Cultivated Shrimp, Litopenaeus vannamei, through Microsatellites
  • 2016: Gene Expression Rates of Target Genes in Hepatopancreas Tissue of Litopeneaus Vannamei after Experimental White Spot Syndrome Virus Infection.  
  • 2015: Exploring the Effects of Cynodon dactylon Extract on White Spot Syndrome Virus Virulence in Pennaus vannamei.   
  • 2014: Molecular Defense Responses in Neohelice Granulata infected with White Spot Syndrome Virus.


Project description: The elucidation of the role of the recently reported peripheral venous serotonergic system in the control of reactivity in veins. By using the classical pharmacological approach of isolated organ bath for tension recordings, associated with biochemical and molecular techniques, the research will test the hypothesis that the ability of peripheral veins to synthesize, uptake and metabolize serotonin controls venous reactivity locally. The investigation of the putative impact of the venous serotonergic system in pathological states such as hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, sepsis, and erectile dysfunction is also part of the present goal in order to offer clues toward explaining abnormal function in these diseases

Mentor: Dr. Aurea Elizabeth Linder, Department of Pharmacology, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina 

Recent MHIRT Project Titles: 

  • 2017: Endotoxemia in Female Rats Acutely Treated with Fluoxetine
  • 2016: Pilot Study: The Effect of Antidepressants and Antihypertensives in the Sexual Preference of Female Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats.  
  • 2015: Uncovering Hypertension.
  • 2014: Effects of Subcutaneous Serotonin on Male Rat Erectile Behavior In vivo.

Project description: 
This laboratory is devoted to understanding how pharmacological substances, such as antidepressants, are able to antagonize behavioral consequences of stress and how these anti-stress properties may be applied to develop new behavioral approaches
applied to preclinical screening of new antidepressant substances.

In this lab the students will have opportunity to learn how to deal with different species of laboratory animals, to perform experiments in behavior and neurochemistry and to analyze different types of data. In addition, they are able to present scientific seminars and participate in the routine data discussion with the group.

Mentor: Dr. Cilene Lino de Oliveira, Laboratory of Behavioral Neurobiology, Department of Physiological Sciences, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina

Recent MHIRT Project Titles: 

  • 2016: Assessing the Quality of the Forced Swimming Test in Animal Studies.
  • 2015: The Efficacy of Antidepressants in the Forced Swimming Test.  
  • 2013: A Translational Rodent Assay of Affective Biases in Depression and Antidepressant Therapy: A Protocol Replication.

SAO PAOLO (4 sites)

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Project descriptions: a) Retinal effects of intravitreal acyclovir in rabbits: acyclovir is an antiviral drug used in the treatment of infections caused by herpes virus. Ocular infections by this virus can lead to complete blindness within days and therefore it is crucial that the drug reaches the retina quickly. This project intends to evaluate the safety of intravitreal injections of acyclovir. b) Density and distribution of UV cones in the goldfish: many species of fish are able to see in the ultraviolet range due to the presence of a UV cone in their retinas. In some species, this ability is lost in adult animals, because the UV cones stop expressing UV opsins and become S-cones. It is unclear whether this is the case in the goldfish. This project involves studying the distribution of UV cones in fish of different ages, to see whether they tend to disappear in older animals. c) Identification of post-synaptic partners of mixed-input bipolar cells: in the fish retina, rod signals reach the inner retina through mixed-input bipolar cells, which are neurons that contact both rods and cones. The post-synaptic partners of these cells are however not known. The goal of this project is to identify which neurons are post-synaptic to mixed-input bipolar cells. 

Mentor: Dr. Christina Joselevitch, Dept. of Experimental Psychology, Universidade de São Paulo

Recent MHIRT Project Titles:

  • 2016: An Immunocytochemical Study of Neuronal Populations in the Goldfish and Mouse. 
  • 2014: The use of Multifocal Electroretinogram Response Dynamics on Diabetic Retinopathy.
  • 2013: A Survey of Amacrine Cell Types in the Goldfish Retina.
  • 2012: Morphological Evaluation of the Ganglion Cell Layer in the Rabbit Retina.


Project Description: Basic research on neurotransmitter receptor expression and function, specifically metabotrophic glutamate receptors expression after injury and cannabinoid receptor expression in the CNS. Techniques used are small animal surgery and immunocytochemistry, microscopy.

Mentor: Dr. Luiz Britto - Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, University of Sao Paulo

Recent MHIRT Project Titles:

  • 2016: The Correlation of Cellucar, Molecular, Behavioral, and Neuro-functional Parameters in Parkinson's Disease with Physical Exercise in an 6-OHDA Rat Model.
  • 2015: Expression of TSC1 in Hemiparkinsonian Mouse Brain. 
  • 2014: Expression of TSC1 and TSC2 in Parkinson’s Related Areas of Normal Mouse Brains.
  • 2013: Analyzation of Expression Patterns of Hamartin and Tuberin in Animal Models with High Fat Diets.
  • 2012: Decrease in the Neuroinflammation Markers is Involved in the Beneficial Effects of Exercise in Hemi-Parkinsonians Rats.


Project Description: The goal of this work is to analyze the modulatory effect of adenosine receptors on the mRNA and protein nitric oxide synthase (NOS), as well as the synthesis of nitric oxide (NO) in cultured cells from the dorsomedial portion of the brain stem. 

Mentor: Dr. Debora R. Fior Chadi - Associate Professor, Department of Physiology, Institute of Biosciences, University of Sao Paulo

Recent MHIRT Project Titles: 

  • 2014: Modulation of the System of Carbon Dioxide, Using the Analysis of Heme Oxygenase-2 for the Agonist of the Receptor A2a of Adenosine in Culture Cells from the Medulla and Cerebellum of Rats with Normal Blood Pressure and Spontaneous Hypertension.
  • 2013: Activation of the Adenosine A2α Receptor Modulates Heme-oxygenase-2 in Dorsomedial Medulla Oblongata Cell Cultures.
  • 2011: Effect of adenosine on levels of nitric oxide: Cellular mechanisms important for the development of hypertension.


Project Description: Focuses on three major groups of vision-threatening conditions: 1. Diseases following long-term exposure to neuro-toxic drugs and/or substances (e.g., intoxication by organic solvents such as toluene and various forms of mercury-intoxication); 2. Diseases resulting from the interaction between genetic and environmental components (e.g., diabetes and multiple sclerosis); 3. Well-known genetic diseases (Duchenne muscular dystrophy and Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy).

Mentor: Dr. Dora Selma Fix Ventura, Department of Experimental Psychology, Institute of Psychology, University of Sao Paulo

Recent MHIRT Project Titles:

  • 2016: Short Dark Adaptation Protocol in Controls and in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Patients.
  • 2015: ​​Study of the Melanopsin Gene Expression in Diurnal and Nocturnal Snakes.
  • 2014: Genetic analysis, CAD Tests, and CCT Yield the Same Result for Colorblind Classifications.
  • 2013: The Anatomical, Functional, and Electrophysiological Evaluation of the Visual System in Albinism Carriers: A Clinical and Laboratory Study.
  • 2012: Association Study of Color Vision Deficits with Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms for Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy in Type 1 & 2 Diabetics.
  • 2011: Vision as a sensitive indicator of conditions threatening retinal and central nervous system function. 


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Project descriptions: 1) Analysis of bone morrow mesenchymal cells from patients with acute myeloid leukemia and from healthy subjects in an assay of coculture with leukemic blasts. This study is analyzing the role of MSCs in favoring the survival of malignant cells through the reduction of the cellular damage, induction of quiescence and/or reduction of apoptosis induced by ROS.

2) Effects of erlotinib and gefitinib therapy in combination with all-trans retinoic acid and arsenic trioxide in acute promyelocytic leukemia: in vitro, ex vivo and murine experimental model studies. In this study, we intend to evaluate the effects of erlotinib and gefitinib isolated or in combination with ATRA and ATO in APL cell lines, primary blasts and murine experimental model as well as elucidate the molecular targets of these drugs.

3) Detection and functional analysis of Tumor-Associated Macrophages (TAM) in a transgenic model of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). Involves quantifying the different functional subtypes (M0, M1, M2) of macrophages in the bone marrow of patients with APL as well as in the hCG-PML/RARA transgenic mice model. Focus is on the effect of these cells on normal and malignant hematopoiesis, as well testing whether the induced polarization of macrophages affects leukemogenesis.

Mentor: Eduardo Rego M.D.