Ana Barroso Abecasis trained as a medical doctor and as a pharmacist. She finished her PhD in Medical Sciences at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium in May 2009.
Assistant Professor and Director of the Unit for International Public Health and Biostatistics, Ana teaches Research Methods in Health, Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, Health of the Vulnerable Populations and Global Health at IHMT-NOVA and at the Faculty of Medical Sciences-NOVA. Supervises or supervised 9 PhD thesis, 12 master thesis and 5 post-docs.
In 2012, received the L’Oreal Portugal FCT Unesco Medal of Honour for Women in Science, in 2016 and 2017 the prize of Gilead Génese programme and in 2019 the Ricardo Camacho Award from Associação Portuguesa para o Estudo Clínico da SIDA.
Coordinates/ coordinated 5 national and international projects and participates/participated in 10 national or international projects, coordinates the research line of Global Pathogen Dispersion & Mobility of Populations at the Global Health and Tropical Medicine Research Center and is member of several European networks of antiviral drug resistance, including EUResist and European Society for Translational Antiviral Research.
Has published around 68 articles in international peer-reviewed journals, including PNAS, Lancet Infectious Diseases, Clinical Infectious Diseases and AIDS, 4 conference papers and 2 book chapters; 33 oral communications and 70 poster presentations in national or international conferences. Accumulates 1814 citations with an h-index of 23 (Google Scholar) or 1129 citations with an h-index of 18 (ResearcherID).
Ana is member of the Council of the NOVA University of Lisbon since 2018, coordinates a Public Health Specialization Course for Medical Doctors and is member of the Scientific Committee of the Master for Statistics in Health since 2015 and of the Masters for Public Health and Development since 2018. Ana is member of the Consulting Committee of the Fast Track Cities Initiative- Lisbon and of the Portuguese NGO Grupo de Ativistas em Tratamentos VIH (GAT).
Ana’s research interests include Virology, Microbiology, Antimicrobial and Antiviral Drug Resistance, Bioinformatics, Research Methods in Health, Transmission of Infectious Diseases, Evolution and Global Health.
Our work can tentatively be divided in three main topics:
1. Pathogen Dispersion and Mobility of Populations
This research line aims to reconstruct the dispersal of pathogens and fast evolving viruses globally. It uses advanced phylogenetic and phylogeographical approaches to reconstruct the spread of viral organisms in a large scale. We have used this approach example to understand the role of Angola for the early dispersal of HIV. We also use this approach for other fast evolving viruses, such as arboviruses and HCV.
2. Investigation and characterization of clusters of transmission of fast-evolving viruses, either for forensics or for public health purposes
For fast-evolving viruses, transmission clusters can be reconstructed using evolutionary and phylogenetic analyses, based on the amount of relatedness between viral strains infecting different individuals. The characterization of such reconstructed transmission clusters can be used to investigate determinants of transmission and propagation of particular viral epidemics in specific settings or can be used in court settings as a forensic tool in transmission investigations. These analyses are increasingly important to inform public health bodies about determinants of transmission of infectious diseases and to develop better prevention measures to target such epidemics.
3. Drug resistance investigations
We are developing several projects in the field of HIV drug resistance in Portugal, Portuguese-speaking countries and worldwide. This has started with my own doctorate thesis, where I investigated the differences in drug resistance pathways between HIV subtypes. In 2014, we started a European project, where we set up a network of Portuguese-wide hospitals, that collect genomic, clinical and socio-behavioral information from newly diagnosed HIV individuals. This project has finalized and we are analysing the results. Other projects started afterwards, which focus on transmission of drug resistance in migrants and on the impact of late presenters for HIV transmission in Portugal. In another project we investigate drug resistance to integrase inhibitors, a class of drugs that is now recommended as 1st line therapy. We expect that many outputs will begin to come out in the next few months.
- Mavian C, Pond SK, Marini S, Magalis BR, Vandamme AM, Dellicour S, Scarpino SV, Houldcroft C, Villabona-Arenas J, Paisie TK, Trovão NS, Boucher C, Zhang Y, Scheuermann RH, Gascuel O, Lam TT, Suchard MA, Abecasis A, Wilkinson E, de Oliveira T, Bento AI, Schmidt HA, Martin D, Hadfield J, Faria N, Grubaugh ND, Neher RA, Baele G, Lemey P, Stadler T, Albert J, Crandall KA, Leitner T, Stamatakis A, Prosperi M, Salemi M. (2020). Sampling bias and incorrect rooting make phylogenetic network tracing of SARS-COV-2 infections unreliable. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. May 7:202007295. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2007295117
- Abecasis AB, Wensing AM, Paraskevis D, et al. (2013). HIV-1 subtype distribution and its demographic determinants in newly diagnosed patients in Europe suggest highly compartmentalized epidemics. Retrovirology. 10:7. doi:10.1186/1742-4690-10-7
- Libin PJK, Deforche K, Abecasis AB, Theys K. (2019). VIRULIGN: fast codon-correct alignment and annotation of viral genomes. Bioinformatics. May 15;35(10):1763-1765. doi: 10.1093/bioinformatics/bty851
- Pineda-Peña AC, Pingarilho M, Li G, Vrancken B, Libin P, Gomes P, Camacho RJ, Theys K, Barroso Abecasis A; Portuguese HIV-1 Resistance Study Group. (2019). Drivers of HIV-1 transmission: The Portuguese case. PLoS One. Sep 30;14(9):e0218226. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0218226
- Pimentel V, Pingarilho M, Alves D, Diogo I, Fernandes S, Miranda M, Pineda-Pena AC, Libin P, Martins MRO, Vandamme AM, Camacho R, Gomes P, Abecasis A. (2020). Molecular Epidemiology of HIV-1 Infected Migrants Followed up in Portugal: Trends between 2001-2017. Viruses. Feb 28;12(3):268. doi: 10.3390/v12030268