JP Simas graduated at University of Lisbon as a Veterinary Surgeon in 1991 the same year he obtained a MSc in Biotechnology from the University of Newcastle upon-Tyne, UK. He was awarded in 1994 a PhD in Viral Pathogenesis by University of Cambridge, UK. His post-doc work was as a Wellcome Trust Fellow from 1994-97 and Post-doctoral Fellow from 1997-1998 at University of Cambridge. He was Assistant Prof. at Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel Salazar, Universidade do Porto from 1996-2001; Assistant Prof. at Faculty of Medicine University of Lisbon from 2001-2006; Associate Prof. Faculty of Medicine University of Lisbon from 2006-2021. In 2021 he joined the new Católica Medical School at Universidade Católica Portuguesa in Lisboa and was appointed Director of the Católica Biomedical Research Centre. He was a Principal Investigator at Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência from 1999-2004 and Principal Investigator at Instituto de Medicina Molecular from 2004-2021. Since October 2021 he is a replacement City Councillor and Health Advisor to the Mayor of Lisboa.
The Simas lab studies how Kaposi´s sarcoma associated herpesvirus (KSHV) establishes life-long infection and causes Kaposi sarcoma and primary effusion lymphoma. KSHV infection of tumor cells is primarily latent and KSHV drives cells to proliferate. KSHV persists in latently infected tumor cells as an extrachromosomal, multi-copy episome (plasmid). The viral protein latency associated nuclear antigen (LANA) mediates episome replication and segregation during mitosis. Tumor cell viability is dependent on KSHV infection. Therefore, targeting LANA is a major clinical goal. Hence, we focus our research on identifying molecular functions of LANA that are essential for viral genome persistence and ultimately develop strategies to eradicate infection and cure associated cancers.