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Director's Message


2021 started at a very special moment for the world! 2020 was undoubtedly a year of many challenges to all of us. And after such a tough (even perplexing, but sometimes also inspiring) time, we could only start 2021 with open arms and full of hope! At least, I did. And I believe many of us did.

The reasons behind such hope were, for me, quite obvious. The scientific community had reacted at an astonishing rate to the news of the new virus. Science and scientists made all of their knowledge, energy, resources and creativity available to not only decipher SARS-CoV-2 as fast as possible, but also to create diagnostics, serological tests and, most importantly, multiple vaccines against COVID-19. And the results could not have been more extraordinary. Even before COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic in early March 2020, BioNTech and Pfizer had already started collaborating on a new vaccine against the novel coronavirus. In the space of a few months, this vaccine reached the third phase of evaluation in human volunteers and, by early November 2020, they became the first drug makers to show success in a large-scale clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine. Several others around the world have followed parallel paths. And, in just under a year, we had several safe and very effective vaccines available to protect against the most serious forms of COVID-19. So, yes, we had good reasons to be hopeful!

But, most importantly, we soon realized that our hopes were not in vain. Not at all! During the first trimester of 2021, more than 600 million doses of these vaccines were administered worldwide. And a huge amount of data, shared around the world, immediately started to show the remarkable vaccine’s benefit. In Portugal, the impact of vaccination against COVID-19 became widely noted. By April, unsurprisingly seen as several restrictions had been lifted, the number of cases started to increase again. Still, the number of deaths in the age group 80+ years old, the one with the highest proportion of people already vaccinated, remained much lower than before vaccines were available. The evidence that science is the best tool available not only for understanding the world, but also to solve the world’s problems was in front of us and of the entire society.

Thus, while “hope” was the first word for 2021, it did not last more than 2-3 months and was easily replaced by “dream”. Our mindset changed. The pandemic and our reaction to it made it clear that, together, we can solve the most difficult problems. Realizing that made me think of a conversation I had with my colleague and good friend from MIT, Sangeeta Bhatia 10 years earlier. One day, over lunch, she asked me: “When did you become aware that you wanted to and could change the world?” Faced with my embarrassment and incapacity to generate any interesting answer, she decided to provide her own to this question: “For me it was on my first day of school, when I was 6 years old. My father walked me to the school entrance and, before saying goodbye, he said: “This is the place where from today on you will have access to all the tools you need to one day change the world. Enjoy.” Wow, such a simple, yet powerful message!

In 2011, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, then President of Liberia and later awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace, was invited to speak to Harvard students at their graduation ceremony. In her moving speech she said: “The size of dreams must always exceed the current capacity to realize them. If your dreams don't scare you, it's because they aren't big enough.” I couldn’t agree more. Dreaming big is critical. The truth is that if we start with a small dream, as life imposes demands and obstacles to its realization, little or nothing will be left of it.

So, what is our dream for iMM, and how do we plan to make it a reality? This question has been occupying our minds; the answer is definitely a work-in-progress.

A couple of years prior to the pandemic, Steve Caddick, professor of chemical biology at University College London, and Director of Innovation at the Wellcome Trust, said: “We have to be bold if we want to improve human health, and for that, aspiration is essential.” The pandemic, our reaction to it and the results of everyone’s efforts and dedication only show that this statement is truly sagacious. We must be bold!

But how? In the turn of the millennium, Bill and Melinda Gates dared proposing to eradicate malaria before they die. Sixteen years later, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan pledged 3 billion dollars to end all diseases in the world. In face of these actions, how can we be bold? The truth is that these billions of dollars are not enough for such ambitious goals. The Francis Crick Institute in London spends this amount in less than 10 years. The Wellcome Trust plans to spend £16 billion over the next ten years to “advance scientific discovery and take on the world’s most pressing health issues”. But all these initiatives happen because their actors know that the only way to achieve the ultimate goal – a future with no (or little) disease – is only possible if a long-term, global movement to fund science, with the support of citizens around the world, takes place. They may want to be the spark, but for the process to succeed we need so many more of us to be involved. And while we must always think freely and globally, we have the responsibility to act locally and efficiently.

We must strengthen our community by attracting more brilliant and ambitious scientists, and providing them with internationally competitive conditions, so that they can pursue their aspirations and the answers to the most creative questions – the questions nobody dared to ask before, the questions with no answer yet! But we must also create the space and the conditions to find solutions to the most vital health problems. And I have no doubt that the time and space are here and now! Now, because we must build on our own and growing experience of almost 20 years of chasing questions, as well as on our recent involvement in problem-solving during the pandemic. Here, because, besides us scientists and all the iMMers that work together for a healthier future, our campus is filled with students eager to learn, medical professionals that need answers and solutions, and citizens that, with time and the indispensable empowerment, will understand that a place like iMM, where science meets medicine, is also an important piece of their dream of long and healthy lives. So, let’s be bold together. Individually we can certainly make a difference. But collectively we will be able to be the change we want to see in the world.

Maria Manuel Mota (Executive Director)


Vibrant Scientific Environment

The iMM – Instituto de Medicina Molecular João Lobo Antunes is a leading Portuguese private non-profit research institute that offers a vibrant scientific environment, aiming to nurture innovative ideas in basic, clinical and translational biomedical research.

Created in 2002, iMM has established itself as a leading national and internationally competitive biomedical institute. Its strategy has been defined by promotion of excellence, leveraged by high-quality human resources, increasing expenditure in infrastructures and knowledge transfer to the society. iMM is an inclusive, equal opportunity employer offering attractive conditions and benefits.

Projects co-funded by FEDER through POR Lisboa 2020 - Programa Operacional Regional de Lisboa, PORTUGAL 2020 and by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia

Projects | LA/P/0082/2020

Projects | UIDP/BIM/50005/2020

Projects | UIDB/BIM/50005/2020

Projects | UID/BIM/50005/2019

Projects | Concurso 02/SAICT/2017

Projects | Concurso 03/SAICT/2015

Projects | Concurso ICDT2014

Projects | UID/BIM/50005/2013 - LISBOA-01-0145-FEDER-007391

Vision, Mission & Values

Our Goal:

To pave the way for groundbreaking science.

Our Vision:

To improve human life through excellence in biomedical research.

Our Mission:

  • To promote basic biomedical, clinical, translational and innovation research in these areas, with the aim of contributing to a better understanding of disease mechanisms, to develop new diagnostic or predictive tests as well as new therapies.
  • To support postgraduate scientific training of young graduates, doctors and other health professionals.
  • To support scientific dissemination and the provision of services abroad in the areas of specialized diagnosis, quality control and collaboration in National and International Commissions related to Health.

Our Values:

Generation of knowledge, excellence, individual freedom and ambition.

Organization & Structure

iMM Associated Members
  • Universidade de Lisboa
  • Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de Lisboa
  • Centro Hospitalar Universitário Lisboa Norte - Hospital Santa Maria
  • Associação para a Investigação e o Desenvolvimento da Faculdade de Medicina
  • Fundação Oriente

Boards of Trustees

The Board of Trustees is composed by representatives of the Associated Members and meets at least once per year to analyze the scientific and finance report and to approve the plan of activities and budget for the next year.

Board of Directors

The Board of Directors is responsible for the management of the Institute according to the Plans aprooved by the Trustees. The Board of Directors is elected by the Trustees.

M. Carmo-Fonseca
MD, PhD - President

Maria M. Mota
PhD - Executive Director

Bruno Silva-Santos
PhD - Vice-Director

For any topic related to iMM Board of Directors or iMM President, please contact:
- Clara Artur (Assistant to the Board of Directors)
- Patricia Cucio (Assistant to the President)

Finance and Operations Director

Fausto Lopo de Carvalho

Scientific Advisory Council

Undertake periodic evaluations to the iMM specific programes and include international experts of scientific fields.

Carlos Caldas
MD, PhD, Chairman
Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute
Cambridge Cancer Center, UK

Caetano Reis e Sousa
Francis Crick Institute, London, UK

Elaine Mardis
Institute for Genomic Medicine at NationWide Children's Hospital, USA

Yasmine Belkaid
National Institutes of Health, USA

Societal Advisory Board

António Barreto
Sociologist and Columnist

Graça Franco
Renascença Group

Paula Martinho da Silva

Diogo Lucena
NOVA School of Business and Economics

João Filipe Queiró
Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade de Coimbra

Henrique Leitão
Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa

Pedro Norton

Domítilia dos Santos
The dos Santos Group

Industrial Advisory Board

Aid the Techonology Transfer Office team in the definition of a strategy and action plan to drive innovation at iMM.

Daniela Couto
Biogeneration Ventures Fund

David Malta
Vesalius Biocapital

Isabel Ferreira

Miguel Forte
Zelluna Immunotherapy

Pascale Redig

Quality Policy for Research Infrastructure

  • Support Instituto de Medicina Molecular João Lobo Antunes (iMM) Researchers to successfully pursue their missions.
  • Identify the needs for improvement in the technical, logistics and administrative areas in order to satisfy the needs/expectations of Customers, and promote the necessary measures to solve the difficulties that arise during the course of their activity.
  • To promote interaction between the scientific community of iMM and its different social partners, including academic institutions and health and industry, to foster scientific development.
  • Comply with requirements and improve the effectiveness of the Quality Management System.

Institutional Policies

  • Financial Conflict of Interest Policy

The U.S. federal regulation for managing Financial Conflicts of Interest (FCOI) aims to promote objectivity in research by establishing standards for the design, conduct, or reporting of US-funded research so that it will be free from bias resulting from any Investigator’s conflicting financial interest. Instituto de Medicina Molecular João Lobo Antunes (iMM), being an institution with US-funded research, maintains an up-to-date, written, and enforced FCOI policy for managing financial conflicts of interest that complies with the US regulation.

iMM’s FCOI policy can be downloaded here.

  • Gender Equality Plan 2022-2025

The Instituto de Medicina Molecular João Lobo Antunes (iMM) promotes creativity, ambition and freedom as its core values. An integral part of these values is a lasting commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, which we aim to further strengthen by directing appropriate resources and providing dedicated training to our community.

The aim of the iMM Gender Equality Plan 2022-2025 is to promote equal participation of women, men, transgender and non-binary employees, identifying and eliminating any stereotype or barrier that impedes anyone from developing their best selves in the professional life at the iMM. A set of goals and comprehensive measures was defined for each of five thematic areas:

  1. Gender equality in recruitment and career progression;
  2. Gender balance in leadership and decision-making;
  3. Prevention of gender-based and sexual harassment;
  4. Integration of the gender dimension into research content;
  5. Work-life balance;
  6. Organisational communication and culture.

Find here the iMM Gender Equality Plan 2022-2025.

Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Group

The Instituto de Medicina Molecular João Lobo Antunes promotes creativity, ambition and freedom as its core values. An integral part of these values is a lasting commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, which we aim to further strengthen by directing  appropriate resources and providing dedicated training to our community.

The mission of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) group is to identify, raise awareness and implement policies on Diversity and Inclusion issues. Ultimately, our goal is to make iMM an institution where no one is disadvantaged because of their characteristics.

Who we are?

You can reach us at

Find here the iMM Gender Equality Plan 2022-2025.

CAML - Lisbon Academic Medical Center

The Lisbon Academic Medical Center (Centro Académico de Medicina de Lisboa-CAML) is an innovative academic centre and a consortium of three institutions: Centro Hospitalar Universitário Lisboa Norte-CHULN, one of the main portuguese hospitals; Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de Lisboa-FMUL, the largest national Medical School; and Instituto de Medicina Molecular João Lobo Antunes-iMM, a biomedical research institute of excellence.

CHULN, FMUL and iMM are recognized externally for their strengths in their own domains. By joining efforts, CAML will attain a higher level of international recognition for excellence in healthcare and biomedical research and education.