Isabel Palmeirim


University of Algarve

Department of Biomedical Sciences and Medicine, Bld 8

Phone: +351 289 244 481 (internal extn. 7481)



Academic Degrees

  • September 2011 - "Agregação"degree in Life Sciences, Faculdade de Ciências Médicas da Universidade Nova de Lisboa;
  • May 1998 - Ph.D. in Developmental Biology, “Université Pierre et Marie Curie”, Paris VI;
  • 1993 - 1st semester Master in Microbiology Molecular Genetics, Universidade do Minho - Portugal;
  • 1993/92 - Pediatric complementary internal-ship, Hospital de São Marcos – Braga;
  • 1990/91 - General medical internal-ship, Hospital São Francisco de Xavier - Lisboa;
  • 1983/89 - Degree in Medicine- “Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade Clássica de Lisboa” - Portugal.



  • From September 2009 - Professor at the Medical Course, Department of Medicine, University of Algarve, Portugal;
  • From January 2010 - Head group of a research team in “Chronobiology”, Centro de Biomedicina Molecular e Estrutural (CBME) – University of Algarve – Portugal;
  • October 2001 to August 2009- Professor at the Medical School, University of Minho, Portugal;
  • March 2002 to August 2009 - Head group of a research team in “Developmental Biology”, Instituto de Investigação em Ciências da Vida e Saúde (ICVS) – University of Minho – Portugal;
  • September 1999 to August 2004 - Head group of a research team in “Cellular and molecular aspects of segmentation in vertebrates”, Gulbenkian Institute of Science– Oeiras - Portugal;
  • May 1998 to August 1999 - Post-doctoral stage at “Institut d’Embryologie Cellulaire et Moléculaire du CNRS et du Collège de France” – Paris – France;


Research Interests

Developmental biology traditionally considers that development comprises four different events: differentiation, morphogenesis, growth and reproduction. We draw our attention to a fifth issue: How is time controlled during embryonic development? During my PhD, I identified for the first time a cycling gene, hairy1, unveiling the existence of a molecular clock that underlying chick somite formation (Palmeirim et al., 1997 Cell 91, 639-648) and providing cellular positional information in at least two dimensions: not only in the anteroposterior but also in the mediolateral PSM axis (Freitas et al., 2001 Development, 128 (24): 5139-47). Later on, we have identified the chick terra gene and showed that this is an early left-sided expressed gene that links left-right patterning with bilateral synchronization of the segmentation clock (Saúde et al., 2005 Nat Cell Biol, Sep; 7(9): 918-20). In 2007, we reported the existence of a limb molecular clock suggesting that temporal control exerted by cyclic gene expression can be a widespread mechanism providing cellular temporal information during vertebrate embryonic development (Pascoal et al., 2007 J. Mol. Biol., Apr 27;368(2):303-9). Currently, several lines of investigation are being developed aiming to characterize the segmentation clock in several of its aspects. Additionally, we are undertaking studies in both tail and limb buds, in pursuit of molecular parallelisms between the clocks ticking in these tissues.


Project Grants

FCT research projects:

  • Molecular parallelisms in vertebrate somitogenesis and limb development - PTDC/SAU-OBD/099758/2008.
  • The role of molecular clock genes in temporal control of mesoderm patterning in vertebrate embryos - PTDC/SAU-OBD/105111/2008.
  • Identification of molecular interactions in the chick “segmentation clock” using the yeast One-hybrid and Two-hybrid approaches - POCI/BIA-BCM/62688/2004.
  • EMBO Small Grants Scheme for initiatives in Science & Society.
  • New aspects on coordinating limb bud development – POCTI/BCI/42040/2001
  • Time counting system during vertebrate embryonic development - POCTI/1999/BCI/34599.

European research projects:

April 2004 to Mars 2009- Member of the Network of excellence “Cells into organsEU/FP6 Cells into Organs: Functional genomics for development and disease of mesodermal organ systems ( Coordinator of the “Workpackage: Vertebrate somitogenesis” from this European Network of Excelence;


Selected Publications (2008-2012)

Pais de Azevedo T., Bensimon-Brito A., Witten E.P., Palmeirim I. Interrelationship and modularity of notochord and somites: A comparative view on zebrafish and chicken vertebral body development. Journal of Applied Ichthyology. (in press)

Azevedo M.-M, Fonseca F, Andrade RP, Palmeirim I. The impact of alternative science education methodologies on the motivation and acquisition of scientific concepts. Education Research Journal. (in press)

Azevedo M, Fonseca F, Teixeira A, Brito C, Andrade RP, Palmeirim I. The impact of experimental activities on the motivation and acquisition of scientific concepts at the basic school level. Am J Education. (in press)

Resende TP, Ferreira M, Tavares AT, Teillet M-A, Andrade RP and Palmeirim I, "Sonic hedgehog: a new player in temporal control of somite formation", Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Jul 1 [Epub ahead of print].

Sheeba CJ, Andrade RP., Palmeirim I. (2010) Comprehensive analysis of fibroblast growth factor receptor expression pattern during chick forelimb development,  Int J Dev Biol. 54(10):1517-26.

Martins GG, Rifes P, Amândio R, Rodrigues G, Palmeirim I and Thorsteinsdóttir S. Dynamic 3D Cell Rearrangements Guided by a Fibronectin Matrix Underlie Somitogenesis, Plos One, 2009 Oct 15;4(10):e7429.

Palmerim I and Aréchaga J. A small great history of the sister Societies of Developmental Biology in Spain and Portugal, International Journal of Developmental Biology, 2009;53(8-10):1261-8.

Osório L, Teillet M-A, Palmeirim I, Catala M. (2009) Neural crest ontogeny during secondary neurulation: a gene expression pattern study in the chick embryo, International Journal of Developmental Biology, 2009;53(4):641-8.

Pascoal S and Palmeirim I. (2009) Portuguese contributions to the embryonic molecular clock discovery and characterization. International Journal of Developmental Biology, 2009;53(8-10):1421-6.




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