The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 53: 1235 - 1243 (2009)

Vol 53, Issue 8-9-10

Special Issue: Developmental Biology in Hispania (Spain & Portugal)

Teaching and research on Developmental Biology in Portugal

Essay | Published: 3 November 2009

Sólveig Thorsteinsdóttir*, Gabriela Rodrigues and Eduardo G. Crespo

Departamento de Biologia Animal e Centro de Biologia Ambiental, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal


Developmental Biology has established itself as a solid field of teaching and research in Portugal. Its history is recent, generally considered to have started with the pioneering work of Augusto Celestino da Costa at the beginning of the 20th century. However, research groups were very few and, until the early 1990’s, teaching beyond morphological and comparative embryology was uncommon. In 1994, the first university course dedicated to Developmental Biology as a separate field from Embryology was created at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon and a course on Plant Differentiation and Morphogenesis was also initiated. A Masters programme in Developmental Biology followed at the Lusófona University in 1996. Subsequently, modules of Developmental Biology were included in many Embryology courses and eventually more Developmental Biology courses were created. From 1999 onwards, the number of research groups working in Developmental Biology started to increase, many of which were initiated by researchers who had had the opportunity to pursue their PhD and/or post-doc studies abroad. The Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (Gulbenkian Institute of Science) became the first home of most of these groups, but several later spread to other institutions. This increased activity in turn has stimulated teaching of Developmental Biology and more students have been getting interested in the field. This “positive feedback loop” makes it a nice time to be teaching and working in Developmental Biology in Portugal.


Developmental Biology, teaching, research, Portugal

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