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Graduate Studies in Immunology – ICB-USP

About the Program

The Immunology Graduate Program was created in 1983 based on the joint action of professors from the newly created Department of Immunology at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences of the University of Sao Paulo (ICB/USP). The Master’s and Doctoral programs were created simultaneously and received an A rating in the very first Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel agency (CAPES) evaluation. Since the 1998-2000 period, when CAPES changed its criteria and ratings, our program received a rating of 6, but in the following evaluations it received the maximum rating (7), which it has maintained since then. A hallmark feature of our program is the variety of research areas of its advisors. We offer research in inflammation, allergy, cancer, vector immunobiology, immunogenetics, neuroimmunomodulation, immunology of bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa, complement system, primary and secondary immunodeficiencies, autoimmunity, immunometabolism, cell death, immunoparasitology, toxins and poisons and neonatal and mucosal immunity, among others.


The ICB-USP Graduate Program in Immunology’s main objective is to prepare Master’s students and Doctoral candidates for different fields of Immunology, offering a solid curriculum that fosters the development of research and teaching in Immunology. Within this scope, our program aims to: (a) support the training of human resources for teaching and research, in a multidisciplinary context with an emphasis on Immunology, based on ethical guidelines, respect and responsibility; (b) foster teaching in Immunology; (c) innovate and accomplish breakthroughs that can be turned into products that benefit patients with various diseases; (d) establish new excellence groups in Immunology at universities as well as at teaching and research institutes, both in Brazil and abroad; (e) encourage student and faculty mobility, in Brazil and abroad, and intensify collaboration with new and reputable research groups; (f) support the search for national and international funding, especially in network projects in order to consolidate research lines and groups and to establish new ones; and (g) disseminate science to society.

From the Master’s degree on, students are expected to develop an experimental and original research project, in addition to taking a set of courses that provide a general and up-to-date theoretical foundation in Immunology. As for Doctoral students, the research they conduct is also expected to contribute to new insights on the workings of the immune system, and not only restricted to descriptive or methodological studies.

The body of advisors develops research projects in several fields of Immunology, from the host-pathogen interface to the study of the functions of genes related to the immune response. Among the more practical projects, we seek to study the immunological and genetic mechanisms of human immunodeficiencies and autoimmunity. In addition, some laboratories also provide services, such as diagnostic tests for immunodeficiencies and diseases of the complement system. Some research lines are directly focused on innovation in Immunology, striving to discover new therapeutic targets, develop vaccines and immune serums and develop diagnostic tools. In the last year, a new research line was established to study the impact of the Zika virus infection, in particular the development of microcephaly and vaccines, coordinated by Prof. Jean Pierre Peron (ZIKA Brazil Network).

All advisors take part in research projects funded by national and/or international funding agencies, mostly acting as leaders for these projects. Many projects are developed within networks comprised of several researchers in different educational institutions, such as: The Toxin Research Center, Immune Response and Cell Signaling – Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center (CEPID) funded by Sao Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP); Immunology Research (iii) and Complex Fluids National Institutes of Science and Technology (INCTs); FAPESP Thematic Projects; and Research Support Center (NAP) of the Office of the Dean for Research at USP. Some projects are also carried out in close collaboration with international institutions (Gulbenkian Institute of Sciences, Institute of Molecular Medicine at the University of Lisbon, University of Liverpool, University of Texas, Institute Imagine at the Paris Descartes University, Universidad de La Republica, among others). Additionally, our program advisors are part of large-network projects, such as the GSK Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center (CEPID) funded by FAPESP; the National Institutes of Science and Technology (INCTs); and Grand Challenges of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

In recent years, the program has focused on training students as future professors by encouraging participation (even if voluntary) in the Teaching Improvement Program (PAE) and in fostering courses with pedagogical content, such as: “Teaching Immunology in undergraduate courses” (BMI5898-1) and “Didactic improvement in the teaching of Immunology” (BMI5899-1). Within this context, in the seven editions of the “Immunology Summer/Winter Course” held by the program, our students had effectively participated in teaching activities under the guidance of the advisor responsible for creating the course. This concern mirrors one of our goals: training professionals with the ability to teach Immunology both in high school and higher education, in an innovative way.

Alumni Profile

The quality of the academic and scientific instruction received by our alumni is keenly reflected in the reputation that these professionals have established throughout Brazil and abroad. Many of our alumni are established researchers and advisors in the best teaching and research institutions in Brazil, as is the case with these Assistant Professors José Alexandre Marzagão Barbuto, Lourdes Isaac, Maria Regina D’Império Lima, Claudio Romero Farias Marinho, Jean Pierre Schatzmann Peron and João Gustavo Pessini Amarante-Mendes (Institute of Biomedical Sciences of the University of Sao Paulo, ICB-USP), Alexandre de Castro Keller, Ana Claudia Trocoli Torrecilhas, Renato Barbosa, Karina Ramalho Bortoluci (Federal University of Sao Paulo, UNIFESP), Marcelo de Franco, Nancy Starobinas, Irene Fernandes, Maria Fernanda de Macedo Soares, Carla Lima da Silva, Dunia del Carmen Rodriguez Soto, Eliana Faquim de Lima Mauro, Ana Maria Moura da Silva, Denise Tambourgi (Butantan Institute), Edécio Cunha Neto, Verônica Porto Carreiro de Vasconcellos Coelho, Maria Notomi Sato, Gil Benard, Dewton de Moraes Vasconcelos, Jacqueline de Fátima Jacysyn (Faculty of Medicine of the University of Sao Paulo, FMUSP), Maria Heloisa de Souza Lima Blotta, Pedro Manoel Mendes Moraes Vieira, Selma Giorgio (State University of Campinas, UNICAMP), Lúcia Helena Faccioli and Auro Nomizo (Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Ribeirao Preto – University of Sao Paulo, FCFRP-USP), Ramon Kaneno and Denise Fecchio (State University Julio de Mesquita Filho of Sao Paulo, UNESP-Botucatu), Ana Angélica Steil (University of Vale do Itajai), Henrique de Couto Teixeira, Ana Paula Ferreira, Juciane Castro (Federal University of Juiz de Fora), Virmondes Rodrigues Junior (Federal University of Triangulo Mineiro), Maria Cristina dos Santos (Federal University of Amazonas), Filomena Maria Perella Ballestieri (Federal University of Grande Dourados), Phileno Pinge Filho (State University of Londrina), Ana Paula Kipnis, Fátima Ribeiro Dias (Federal University of Goias), Valdenia Maria Oliveira de Souza (Federal University of Pernambuco), Flávia Raquel Fernandes do Nascimento, Paulo Victor Soares (Federal University of Maranhao), Claudia Ida Brodskyn (Gonçalo Moniz Research Center, FIOCRUZ-Salvador), Enio José Bassi (Federal University of Alagoas), Rosa Maria Elias (University Center of Varzea Grande – UNIVAG), Angela Falcai and Marcos Augusto Grigolin Grisotto (Ceuma University – Maranhao), among others. Moreover, other graduates have gone on to become researchers at renowned institutions abroad, such as Drs. Paola Minoprio (Institut Pasteur, France) and Carlos Henrique Serezani (Indiana University, USA), Maria Alicia Curoto de Lafaille (The Singapore Immunology Network, Singapore), Luciana Vieira de Moares (Instituto Gulbenkian, Portugal), Glaucia Furtado (Mount Sinai School of Medicine, USA), Daniel Mucida and Gabriel Victora (The Rockefeller University, USA) and Daniel Diniz de Carvalho (University of Toronto/Ontario Cancer Institute, Canada), Daniel Jacon Ketelhuth (Karolinska Institutet, Sweden), Francisco José Rios (Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences, BHF Glasgow Cardiovascular Research Centre, Scotland).

Our Program also prepares students to work in different sectors of the private industry. To give an example, several of our alumni are employed by private companies such as Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD Biosciences – Brazil), as specialists in the field of flow cytometry; Merck Millipore, Johnson & Johnson, as specialized laboratory technicians; at Bayer Brazil, as assistant and director in clinical research; at EMD Millipore (Seattle, USA) as a technical support specialist; at Alcon/Novartis as a specialist in clinical applications; at Pfizer (USA) as a technical support specialist, among many others.

In 2016, an alumni from the Program, Dr. Vinicius Andrade de Oliveira, was selected for the Pew Foundation Scholarship Program for Latin America (see directory-of-latin-fellows/2016/vinicius-de-andrade-oliveira) as a Postdoctoral fellow at Professor Yasmin Belkaid’s laboratory at NIH, USA.

Most of our graduates are currently Postdoctoral fellows abroad (Gulbenkian Institute of Sciences, Portugal; The Rockefeller University, USA; NIH, USA; Yale University, USA; Bonn University, Germany; University of Minnesota, USA; Marie Curie Institute, France; Florida International University, USA; Lubeck University, Germany, among others). Four alumni are now researchers at teaching and research institutes connected to teaching hospitals: Mariane Tami Amano (Teaching and Research Institute of Sírio Libanês Hospital), Ricardo Weilich, Welbert Pereira e Luiz Sardinha (Teaching and Research Institute of Albert Einstein Hospital). One alumnus is now a fellow of the Young Investigator Program funded by FAPESP: Dr. Flavio Loures, studies Fungi Immunology and has been supervising undergraduate students. Three other alumni are fellows of the National Postdoctoral Program (PNPD) from the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES): Drs. Tatiana Takeiishi, Bruna Bizzarro, and Priscila Denapolli.

Thesis Award (USP and CAPES)

The excellence of our program is unmistakably noticeable in national awards won for best PhD dissertations of the year. Dissertations in our program have twice received the CAPES Thesis Award in the Biological Sciences III area (2008 and 2010), in addition to five honorable mentions (2006, 2007, 2009, 2014 and 2016), adding up to a total of seven awards thus far. We have also been awarded an honorable mention in the 2014 and 2015 editions of the USP Outstanding Thesis Award. The 2016 number one dissertation for the same award in the area of Biology was written in our program.