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Nagamatsu Earns Honorable Mention in ScientistA Award Program

March 28, 2024

Sheila T. Nagamatsu, PhD, a Brazilian postdoctoral associate in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, has been awarded an honorable mention in the prestigious ScientistA Award Program by Dimension Science, Grupo Mulheres do Brasil—Núcleo Vale do Silício.

The award focuses on highly motivated female postdoc scientists from diverse racial and socio-economic backgrounds who work on projects in the life sciences or medical sciences. The program encourages female scientists and students from Brazil to see STEM in their futures and to build confidence to compete and contribute to the global marketplace.

The award was a partnership between ScientistA, Dimension Sciences, the Consulate General of Brazil in New York, the Embassy of Brazil in Washington, D.C., and Brazilian University Researchers (PUB) led in Connecticut by Graziela Reis, Claudia Matos, and Mark Costa. It took place at the Consulate General of Brazil in New York on March 9, 2024, to celebrate Brazilian women's astounding contributions to sciences at U.S. academic institutions.

Nagamatsu works in the Laboratory of Neuroepigenetics and Psychiatric Genetics under the guidance of Janitza Montalvo-Ortiz, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry. Her expertise lies in the study of epigenetics as it pertains to substance use disorders.

She began her research journey during her undergraduate studies in biotechnology at the Universidade Federal de São Carlos, SP, Brazil. In early 2015, she embarked on a PhD journey in genetics and molecular biology with an emphasis in bioinformatics at the University of Campinas.

Her research project represents a pioneering effort aimed at uncovering the epigenetic signatures of opioid use disorder (OUD) through the examination of samples from blood and postmortem brain tissue. Employing state-of-the-art techniques, the researchers aim to delve into the intricate molecular landscape of OUD across diverse populations.

Their investigation includes the analysis of both epigenetic data and genetic information with the goal of pinpointing essential genetically-driven biomarkers associated with OUD and understanding their impact on brain function.

Preliminary findings from their study of the human postmortem orbitofrontal cortex have already yielded valuable insights, revealing multiple epigenetic markers linked to OUD and shedding light on the biological underpinnings of drug addiction. Furthermore, they anticipate identifying significant biomarkers within blood samples that align with these discoveries, thereby paving the way for novel ways for the identification of potential treatment targets for OUD.

Comprehending the fundamental mechanisms of OUD is pivotal for the development of effective interventions and treatments, according to the researchers.

Submitted by Christopher Gardner on March 28, 2024