Luis Saraiva

Investigator – Assistant Level, Experimental Genetics

Sidra Medical and Research Center, Qatar



Luis Saraiva was born in Portugal, where in 2004, he completed a “Licenciatura” (BSc+MSc) in Biology at the University of Evora and Gulbenkian Institute of Science. He then became a Fellow of the International Graduate School in Genetics and Functional Genomics of the University of Cologne (Germany), where he received his PhD in Genetics (summa cum laude) in 2008, under the mentorship of Dr. Sigrun Korsching. As a postdoc with Nobel Laureate Dr. Linda Buck at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (USA), he investigated which olfactory receptors recognize pheromones and other 'general odors', how these environmental cues can modulate behavior and physiology, and how these cues can be translated into perception. From 2013-2015, he became an EBI–Sanger Postdoctoral (ESPOD) Fellow, in Cambridge (UK), at the labs of Dr. John Marioni (EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute) and Dr. Darren Logan (Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute), he pioneered the use of RNA-sequencing technologies to study how evolution or genetic variation shape the size and function of gene repertoires involved in vertebrate olfaction, and investigated the molecular identity and heterogeneity of different olfactory neuronal populations. With the Sanger Early Career Innovation Award, he extended these studies to hypothalamic neuronal populations regulating appetite, and then to other systems. Importantly, he helped develop a high-throughput method that allows the identification of the spatial origin of cells assayed by single-cell RNA-sequencing within a tissue of interest. This is one of the foundational studies in the nascent field of spatial transcriptomics. Since October 2015 he is an Investigator–Assistant Level in the Division of Experimental Genetics at the Sidra Medical and Research Center (Qatar), and in June 2016 he also became an Adjunct Assistant Member at the Monell Chemical Senses Center (USA). Broadly, his research interests are interested in the molecular and neural mechanisms underlying the transformation of environmental cues in complex behaviors and physiological changes, and to understand how individual genetic variation, gender, social experience, evolution and disease impact these mechanisms.