Joana graduated in Biology from the University of Lisbon, in Portugal, and completed a Master’s in Molecular Biology and Genetics in the same university. She then moved to Brisbane to pursue a PhD in asthma genetics at the QIMR Medical Research Institute. During her PhD candidature, Joana studied the role of the interleukin-6 (IL-6) pathway in asthma. Specifically, her earlier work focused on the IL6R gene (which codes for the IL-6 receptor), with the aim of characterising patients that might benefit from anti-IL-6R therapy, and understanding whether an anti-IL-6R antibody could attenuate asthma symptoms.
After completing her PhD, Joana joined the Program in Complex Trait Genomics group, under Prof Naomi Wray’s mentorship, and switched from a one-gene, one-disease focus to genome-wide studies across different traits. Her recent research shares a common goal with her earlier work: to identify causal and modifiable risk factors for common disease.