At first, Bruno Miguel da Cruz Godinho thought the best way to combine his love of biology and chemistry was to pursue a career in pharmacy. While the interaction with people was rewarding, he realized what he liked best about his training were two internships in research labs.
“I loved the dynamic of the research group,” he said. “This is what drives me: the novelty, the different techniques you can use to prove or disprove a hypothesis. It’s the challenge that makes me love science.”
Changing gears, he earned further degrees in clinical pharmacology and pharmacy before joining the RNA Therapeutics Institute at UMass Medical School as a postdoc. His projects there focus on how to deliver RNA therapies for neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s disease, ALS, or Alzheimer’s disease.
Those therapies are based on a new class of gene-silencing RNAs he discovered and called Di-siRNA. Godhino developed a chemical scaffold for the potential therapeutic, which has been tested in lab dishes and animal experiments.
Penetrating the blood-brain barrier has been a huge obstacle for drug designers hoping to deliver on the promise of short RNA molecules to correct genetic mutations in disease. He hopes his work will help push them across the finish line.
“This is what drives me: the novelty, the different techniques you can use to prove or disprove a hypothesis.”
Godinho came to the United States four years ago, making the U.S. his eighth address. Born in South Africa, he later moved with his family to England and Venezuela for his father’s work in the Portuguese Embassy. His own education and work took him to Ireland, Scotland, and Holland.
“I’ve lived in eight countries, but I’m still a proud Portuguese soccer fan,” he said.
— Elizabeth Cooney