Joana Ferreira

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Synapse Biology


Joana Ferreira, graduated in Biology in 2006 (University of Coimbra) and completed her PhD in Biosciences, specialty Neurosciences (University of Coimbra) in 2012, under the co-supervision of Ana Luísa Carvalho at the Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology (University of Coimbra, Portugal) and Ann Marie Craig at the Center for Brain Health (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada). After completing her PhD, she stayed at the Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology (CNC) as a postdoctoral fellow to complete her studies on the molecular mechanisms of traffic of glutamate receptors. In 2016 she joined the group of Laurent Groc, at the Interdisciplinary Institute for Neuroscience (CNRS, University of Bordeaux, France), to explore the regulation of the nanoscale distribution of NMDA receptors (NMDARs). Recently she has joined the CNC-UC as an Assistant Investigator to start her independent line of research on the nanoscale architecture of the synapse, trans-synaptic signaling and its implications for neurological diseases. She has an extensive and recognized experience in molecular imaging of NMDARs and its interactors and a broad background in molecular neuroscience, with a specific training in super-resolution microscopy techniques. As a young-researcher, she has achieved a successful track-record: 10 publications as first-author in high-impact peer review reference journals, including Neuron and PNAS, out of a total of 18 publications, 2 of them as co-corresponding author. She has supervised several students (2 master students from the University of Bordeaux, 1 from the University of Bialystok, Poland and 1 graduate student from the University of Coimbra) and mentored several PhD students in the laboratory. She has participated as an instructor at the CAJAL Advanced Neuroscience Training Program in Bordeaux, as a lecture in several advanced courses from the PhD Program in Experimental Biology and Biomedicine (PDBEB), and as a teacher in the Molecular Biology course from the Master Program of the University of Coimbra (UC). She has been invited as a jury member by the Bordeaux International Neuroscience Master Program and the Molecular Biology Master Program of the University of Coimbra, and for a PhD thesis committee of the Nova Lisbon University. She has successfully organized an international symposium (2017 FENS Regional Meeting, Hungary), a workshop at one of the biggest microscopy schools in Europe (MiFoBio 2018, France), and an advanced course for PhD students (Advanced Imaging, 2022, PDBEB, UC). She is the Principal Investigator (PI) of 2 international grants (IBRO and NARSAD), co-PI in a consortium project funded by La Caixa Foundation Health Research 2020, and has participated in 8 funded research projects, 18 international scientific meetings, 7 of them as an invited speaker. Recently, she has been awarded with the prestigious 2021 BBRF Young Investigator Grant from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation and the IBRO Return Home Fellowship. For more information about our research group, please check


Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology (CNC) & Center for Innovation in Biomedicine and Biotechnology (CIBB) & Institute for Interdisciplinary Research, University of Coimbra


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Information about journal articles, updated at 16-06-2024, from platform CIÊNCIAVITAE.

[PREPRINT] Neuronal ARHGAP8 controls synapse structure and AMPA receptor-mediated synaptic transmission

Schmidt, Jeannette; Inácio, Ângela; Ferreira, Joana S; Serrenho, Débora; Socodato, Renato; Beltrão, Nuno; Ribeiro, Luís F; et al, bioRxiv. 2024. 10.1101/2024.02.29.582472 . submitted bioRxiv

GluN3A subunit tunes NMDA receptor synaptic trafficking and content during postnatal brain development

Inmaculada M. González-González; John A. Gray; Joana Ferreira; María Jose Conde-Dusman; Delphine Bouchet; Isabel Perez-Otaño; Laurent Groc, Cell Reports. 2023. . 10.1016/j.celrep.2023.112477 . Cell Reports

Near-Infrared Carbon Nanotube Tracking Reveals the Nanoscale Extracellular Space around Synapses

Paviolo, Chiara; Ferreira, Joana S.; Lee, Antony; Hunter, Daniel; Calaresu, Ivo; Nandi, Somen; Groc, Laurent; Cognet, Laurent, Nano Letters. 6849 - 6856. 17. 22. 2022. . 10.1021/acs.nanolett.1c04259 . Nano Letters

A Bottom-Up Approach to Red-Emitting Molecular-Based Nanoparticles with Natural Stealth Properties and their Use for Single-Particle Tracking Deep in Brain Tissue.

Ferreira, Joana S, Advanced materials (Deerfield Beach, Fla.). 2021. . 10.1002/adma.202006644 . Advanced materials (Deerfield Beach, Fla.)

CaMKII activation persistently segregates postsynaptic proteins via liquid phase separation

Tomohisa Hosokawa; Pin-Wu Liu; Qixu Cai; Joana S. Ferreira; Florian Levet; Corey Butler; Jean-Baptiste Sibarita; et al, Nature Neuroscience. 777 - 785. 6. 24. 2021. . 10.1038/s41593-021-00843-3 . Nature Neuroscience

Interplay between NMDA receptor dynamics and the synaptic proteasome

Joana S. Ferreira; Blanka Kellermayer; Ana Luísa Carvalho; Laurent Groc, European Journal of Neuroscience. 2021. . 10.1111/ejn.15427 . European Journal of Neuroscience

CaMKII activation triggers persistent formation and segregation of postsynaptic liquid phase

Tomohisa Hosokawa; Pin-Wu Liu; Qixu Cai; Joana S. Ferreira; Florian Levet; Corey Butler; Jean-Baptiste Sibarita; et al, Nature Neuroscience. 2021. . 10.1101/2020.11.25.397091 . accepted Nature Neuroscience

Distance-dependent regulation of NMDAR nanoscale organization along hippocampal neuron dendrites

Joana S. Ferreira; Julien P. Dupuis; Blanka Kellermayer; Nathan Bénac; Constance Manso; Delphine Bouchet; Florian Levet; et al, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2020. . 10.1073/pnas.1922477117 . Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Fluorescent sp3 Defect-Tailored Carbon Nanotubes Enable NIR-II Single Particle Imaging in Live Brain Slices at Ultra-Low Excitation Doses

Amit Kumar Mandal; Xiaojian Wu; Joana S. Ferreira; Mijin Kim; Lyndsey R. Powell; Hyejin Kwon; Laurent Groc; YuHuang Wang; Laurent Cognet, Scientific Reports. 1. 10. 2020. . 10.1038/s41598-020-62201-w . Scientific Reports

Self-Interference (SELFI) Microscopy for Live Super-Resolution Imaging and Single Particle Tracking in 3D

Ferreira, Joana S, 2019. . 10.3389/fphy.2019.00068 .

Nanoscale exploration of the extracellular space in the live brain by combining single carbon nanotube tracking and super-resolution imaging analysis

Ferreira, Joana S, Methods (San Diego, Calif.). 2019. . 10.1016/j.ymeth.2019.03.005 . Methods (San Diego, Calif.)

Differential Nanoscale Topography and Functional Role of GluN2-NMDA Receptor Subtypes at Glutamatergic Synapses

Ferreira, Joana, Neuron. 2018. . 10.1016/j.neuron.2018.09.012 . Neuron

Co-agonists differentially tune GluN2B-NMDA receptor trafficking at hippocampal synapses

Joana S Ferreira; Thomas Papouin; Laurent Ladépêche; Andrea Yao; Valentin C Langlais; Delphine Bouchet; Jérôme Dulong; et al, eLife. 6. 2017. . 10.7554/eLife.25492 . eLife

Single nanoparticle tracking of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors in cultured and intact brain tissue

Varela, J.A.; Ferreira, J.S.; Dupuis, J.P.; Durand, P.; Bouchet, D.; Groc, L.; Varela JA; et al, Neurophotonics. 4. 3. 2016. . 10.1117/1.NPh.3.4.041808] . Neurophotonics

Biotinylation and Purification of Plasma Membrane-associated Proteins from Rodent Cultured Neurons

Caldeira, Margarida; Ferreira, Joana; Carvalho, Ana; Duarte, Carlos, BIO-PROTOCOL. 10. 6. 2016. . 10.21769/bioprotoc.1807 . BIO-PROTOCOL

Multiple domains in the C-terminus of NMDA receptor GluN2B subunit contribute to neuronal death following in vitro ischemia.

Vieira MM; Schmidt J; Ferreira JS; She K; Oku S; Mele M; Santos AE; et al, 2016. . 10.1016/j.nbd.2015.11.007 .

GluN2B-Containing NMDA Receptors Regulate AMPA Receptor Traffic through Anchoring of the Synaptic Proteasome

Ferreira, J. S.; Schmidt, J.; Rio, P.; Águas, R.; Rooyakkers, A.; Li, K. W.; Smit, A. B.; Craig, A. M.; Carvalho, A. L., J Neurosci. 8462 - 79. 22. 35. 2015. 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3567-14.2015 . J Neurosci

Contactin-associated protein 1 (Caspr1) regulates the traffic and synaptic content of a-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA)-type glutamate receptors.

Santos SD; Iuliano O; Ribeiro L; Veran J; Ferreira JS; Rio P; Mulle C; Duarte CB; Carvalho AL, 2012. . 10.1074/jbc.M111.322909 .

Glutamate binding to the GluN2B subunit controls surface trafficking of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors.

She K; Ferreira JS; Carvalho AL; Craig AM, 2012. . 10.1074/jbc.M112.345108 .

Activity and protein kinase C regulate synaptic accumulation of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors independently of GluN1 splice variant.

Ferreira JS; Rooyakkers A; She K; Ribeiro L; Carvalho AL; Craig AM, 2011. . 10.1074/jbc.M111.222539 .

Characterization of alternatively spliced isoforms of AMPA receptor subunits encoding truncated receptors.

Gomes AR; Ferreira JS; Paternain AV; Lerma J; Duarte CB; Carvalho AL, 2008. . 10.1016/j.mcn.2007.10.008 .

All projects

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Information of exclusive responsibility of the researcher 16-06-2024 , from platform CIÊNCIAVITAE.

2023/03/01 - 2024/08/31

A New TransSynaptic Bridge: Functional characterization of the NMDA receptor-Neurexin interaction


Principal investigator

Universidade de Coimbra

Funders: Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia

2023/01/01 - 2026/12/31

Homeostatic plasticity defects in autism: insight from human mutations in the CNTNAP2 gene



Funders: La Fundació La Marató de TV3

2022/01/01 - 2024/12/31

The study of the novel NMDA receptor-Neurexin-2 interaction and potential role in schizophrenia


Principal investigator

Universidade de Coimbra

Funders: Brain & Behavior Research Foundation

2021/06/01 - 2024/12/31

Center for Innovative Biomedicine and Biotechnology



Funders: Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia

2021/06/01 - 2023/05/31

Individual Call to Scientific Employment Stimulus - 3rd Edition (CEEC-IND)


Principal investigator

Universidade de Coimbra

Funders: Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia

2021/06/01 - 2023/05/31

Functional characterization of a novel transsynaptic complex

IBRO Return Home Fellowship 2021

Principal investigator

Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology; Universidade de Coimbra

Funders: International Brain Research Organization

2020/09/15 - 2023/08/15

Potassium channel dysfunction in models of neurodevelopmental disorders


Principal investigator

Institut Interdisciplinaire de Neurosciences

Funders: ”la Caixa” Foundation

2017/01/01 - 2020/06/30

The Nano-organization of NMDA receptors in neuronal cultures and brain tissue using super resolution techniques


Post-doc Fellow

Institut Interdisciplinaire de Neurosciences; Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique; Université de Bordeaux

Funders: Agence nationale de la recherche

2016/01/01 - 2016/12/31

Role of NMDA receptors co-agonists, glycine and D-serine in the regulation of NMDA receptor surface diffusion: implications in neuronal development


Post-doc Fellow

Institut Interdisciplinaire de Neurosciences

Funders: Agence nationale de la recherche

2013/01/01 - 2015/12/31

The Role of GluN2B-Containing NMDA Receptors in Regulating the Synaptic Proteasome: Implications to AMPA Receptor Traffic


Post-doc Fellow


Funders: Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia

2012/01/01 - 2012/12/31

Regulation of the stability of the messenger RNA for the GluR1 subunit of glutamate receptors


Research Technician Fellow

Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology

Funders: Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia

2011/01/01 - 2012/12/31

Strategic Project - LA 1 - 2011-2012


Universidade de Coimbra Centro de Neurociências e Biologia Celular

Funders: Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia

2010/09/15 - 2013/12/31

Molecular Mechanisms of Synaptic Traffic of Glutamate Receptors of the NMDA Type


Universidade de Coimbra Centro de Neurociências e Biologia Celular

Funders: Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia

2008/01/01 - 2012/06/20

Molecular mechanisms of synaptic traffic of glutamate receptors of NMDA type: implications in synaptic plasticity


PhD Student Fellow

Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology

Funders: Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia

2006/07/01 - 2007/12/31

Driving AMPA receptors into synapses: role of interacting proteins in the delivery of GluR4- and GluR2L-containing AMPA receptors


Research Technician Fellow

Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology

Funders: Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia

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