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Grad Student Appreciation: Matheus Passos Barbosa

What is your academic background? (Where did you get your undergraduate/other degrees?)  

I am originally from Brazil where I studied Veterinary Medicine (2012-2018) and completed a Residency Program in Clinical Medicine of Domestic Carnivores (2018-2020), both at the Universidade Federal da Bahia (UFBA). During my period at Veterinary School, I studied abroad through the Brazilian Scientific Mobility Program at the University of Arizona and at Cornell University, for which I am very thankful.  

How did you become interested in your specific field?  

My research interests first started during my time at Fiocruz, which is a scientific institution for research and development in biological sciences in Brazil. There I worked with Canine Leishmaniasis and immunotherapy development for this infectious zoonotic disease.   

My Residency was also fundamental for my decision to join Graduate School. I treated several end-stages patients and came to discover that Veterinary Medicine, especially Oncology and applied Immunology, are fields full of fascinating research questions yet to be answered, which motivated me to pursue advanced studies and research.  

Why did you choose the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine to pursue this degree?  

The decision to choose the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine was a combination of previous alumni professors that I had during Veterinary School that also studied here and – without a doubt – Dr. Fan’s incredible work in Comparative Oncology.  

What is your current research project?

My research project involves the study of the “rebound immune suppression” phenomenon that often follows an anti-tumor treatment; and therefore, limits clinical responses and therapeutic efficacy. We hypothesize that the control of this phenomenon will result in better clinical outcomes in dogs diagnosed with pulmonary osteosarcoma metastasis.   

I am currently working with experimental drugs and assessing immunological aspects followed by the biological effects of these compounds. Aiming for better treatment efficiency and long-term survival for those patients in the future.  

What impact do you think your research could have on society?  

The understanding of how the immune system reacts to treatments is fundamental for the development of new immunotherapeutic drugs. Not only pets will benefit from that, but also human owners with their loved ones and the potential translational impact for human medicine. 

What has been most beneficial to you in completing your studies at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine?   

The most beneficial aspect of completing my studies at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine will be having research experience from specialists in my field of research together with cultural and social values gained here. The University of Illinois has a diverse student body with incredible faculty members.  

What are your passions outside of research?  

I am a very eclectic person. You can find me riding my bike or walking all over campus or at the coffee shops during my free time (Caffe Paradiso is my favorite). I enjoy listening to Brazilian artists such as Liniker and Duda Beat. My favorite TV show is RuPaul’s Drag Race and I love going to Chicago to enjoy the drag scene there.