Mariana Pais

PhD Candidate

Our identity, thoughts and decisions are built upon the memories we acquire throughout our life. I find it fascinating how biological processes are the basis for (and can alter) everything that we remember, how we behave and view the world! Therefore, my research interests include the neurobiology of memory and how it can be modified to help treat mental disorders, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

My PhD work focuses on how the regulation of the HPA-axis (the stress response system) affects fear and extinction memories, two memory types that form the basis for the development and treatment of PTSD. By working with rodents, we aim to provide proof-of-concept that HPA-axis dysfunction may be a potential biomarker for a personalized treatment for subset of PTSD patients. This work is supervised by Benno Roozendaal and Erno Hermans, and funded by ZonMW.

Before starting my PhD in Nijmegen, I studied at University of Coimbra (Portugal), where I got a Bachelor's in Biology and fell in love with the neuroscience of memory after a short exchange at University College Dublin (Ireland)​. Later I moved to the Netherlands, where I completed the Research Master in Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience (Fundamental Neuroscience Track) at Maastricht University. For my master's thesis, I worked at the Sleep and Memory lab (supervised by Robbert Havekes) at the University of Groningen, where we studied how memory is disturbed by the lack of sleep.

During my free time, I like to practice rock climbing and read epic fantasy books!