At the age of 60, Herlander Marques is the principal investigator of the research group BioOncoSim – Biomolecular Medicine & Computational Simulation, at CINTESIS (TL2 – Clinical & Translational Research), a responsibility he combines with Medical practice in the field of Oncology.
He was born in Avanca, Aveiro, where he lived and studied, except for the two years he was in Mozambique with his father who worked in the Air Force. “It was a remarkable experience,” he recalls. Later, he studied at the Military College in Lisbon, where he first showed interest in research in the area of Life Sciences. He thought about studying Biology, but on her sister’s advice and because of he had the necessary grades, he decided to study Medicine at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto, obtaining his degree in 1984.
He completed the specialty in Internal Medicine at the São João Hospital (nowadays University Hospital Center of São João – CHUSJ) and the specialty of Oncology at the Portuguese Institute of Oncology (IPO) of Porto. He then did his internship at the Gustave Roussy Institute, in Paris. In partnership with another oncologist, he wrote the book “Oncology for General Practitioners”, edited by BIAL. He worked at the São João Hospital as an internist from 1992 to 1993; then, from 1996 to 2006, at the IPO of Porto as an oncologist; and for the last 12 years, he has been wrorking at the Hospital of Braga, in the Medical Oncology Department.
He has always combined clinical practice and clinical and translational research and was drawn into Hematologic Oncology on the base of this field’s “dynamics”. He earned his Integrated Master’s Degree from the Abel Salazar Institute of Biomedical Sciences (ICBAS), after completing a study plan developed in partnership with the University of Philadelphia (United States of America) and IPO of Porto, with a work on the molecular alterations underlying the oncological diseases of the lymphoid line and their clinical impact. In 2014, he completed his PhD at the University of Minho, with a series of papers on the association of the Epstein-Barr virus and polymorphic variants of various human genes with the risk of lymphomas. He is involved in phase 3 clinical studies of different oncological diseases, mainly lymphomas, myelomas and leukemias, studies carried out in collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry and that may result in the introduction of new drugs in the market.
He is an integrated member of CINTESIS since 2017, leading the group BioOncoSim – Biomolecular Medicine & Computational Simulation. The group is dedicated to the development of clinical and epidemiological research in the field of biomolecular medicine and computer simulation models in the field of cancer therapy. The objectives are to test the efficacy, accuracy, safety and cost-effectiveness of innovative cancer treatments through the development of simulation models, in silico trials and epidemiological and prospective multicenter projects in patients.
One of his “on the way” projects promises to change the treatment paradigm of various oncological diseases. It falls within the field of cell therapy for cancer using dendritic cells in patients resistant to conventional chemotherapy treatments and it gathers together CINTESIS, higher education institutions, hospitals and biotechnology companies. He was a member of the Board of the Medical Oncology College of the Portuguese Medical Association for two terms and is a member of the governing bodies of the Portuguese Association of Leukemias and Lymphomas (APLL), which he founded. He has won several awards in the scope of his research activity. “Therapies with T cells, which are reprogrammed to attack tumor cells, have extraordinary results. This project aims to explore another part of the immune response, a completely different one, which is the antigenic presentation, that is, the recognition that the tumor are altered cells that it is important to fight. The objective is that patient’s own immune system recognizes and attacks the tumor,” he explains.
In 2016, Herlander Marques received a special mention/award during the 1th edition of the Janssen Innovation Awards for his work “Methodology for Single Nucleotide Polymorphism Selection in Promoter Regions for Clinical Use. An example of its applicability” and in 2018, he won the 2th edition of the Research Award in Multiple Myeloma of the Portuguese Association Against Leukemia (APCL) and the Portuguese Society of Hematology (SPH), in partnership with the Amgen Biopharmaceutical), in the amount of 15 thousand euros. He was a member of the Board of the Medical Oncology College of the Portuguese Medical Association for two terms and is a member of the governing bodies of the Portuguese Association of Leukemias and Lymphomas (APLL), which he founded.
I want to continue working on the clinical trials we are currently carrying out, which results may be used to advance science and the development of new drugs for cancer patients.
I see myself doing practicing medicine and doing research for a few years to come. The ideas come up continually. After obtaining results in the project that we want to develop in CINTESIS, the logical sequence would be to associate the cell therapy with T cells to the improvement of the antigenic presentation with the dendritic cells. This would allow knowledge to pass into the industry. One of the great assets of this project is that it brings together hospitals, universities and the industry, which is unusual. Unfortunately, in Portugal, research has not yet had a practical, business impact.
Life Beyond Research
We’re all doctors in my family. I have three daughters. All of them are medical doctors (a nephrologist, an ophthalmologist; and the youngest is carried out her residency in psychiatry). My wife is also a medical specialist in Radiology.
I’ve always loved football. I just stopped playing because of the injuries. I practice running, I participate in several races, sometimes in half-marathons. In the summer, I do kayaking, rafting and canyoning. I enjoy physical activity and being in touch with nature.