Dr Catarina M Henriques


Department of Oncology and Metabolism

Sir Henry Dale Fellow

+44 114 222 3647

Full contact details

Dr Catarina M Henriques
Department of Oncology and Metabolism
The Bateson Centre, Room D19
Firth Court
Western Bank
S10 2TN

For enquiries, please contact - iicd-om-operational@sheffield.ac.uk

Telomeres and ageing have been a long-term research passion. Motivated by this, I embarked on a Molecular & Cellular Biology degree and graduated with a BSc (hons) at the University of Glasgow, Scotland in 2005.

Ageing and cancer can be seen as two-sides of the same coin and so I complemented my degree with a PhD in immunology and cancer.

I was awarded a PhD individual Fellowship by the Portuguese Governmental Science Foundation to study Interleukin-7 receptor trafficking regulation and signalling with Dr. Joao Barata at the University of Lisbon, Portugal; in collaboration with Prof. Gerry Graham and Prof. Rob Nibbs at the University of Glasgow.

Following my PhD, I wanted to test the telomere hypothesis of ageing, in a vertebrate animal model that, like humans, depended on telomerase for health and lifespan. This motivated my post-doc, funded by a personal fellowship by the Portuguese Governmental Science Foundation.

I spearheaded the setting up of zebrafish as a model organism in Dr Miguel Godinho Ferreira’s lab at the Gulbenkian Institute of Science, and we were the first in the world to establish the telomerase mutant zebrafish as a new telomerase-dependent vertebrate ageing model.

In 2015 I was awarded a CIMA Research Fellowship at the Human Metabolism Department at Sheffield University, which was quickly followed by the award of a Vice-Chancellor’s Fellowship to start up my independent research group.

My research at the Human Metabolism Department is bridging and complementing collaborations between immunity, stem cells and ageing in two key centres at Sheffield University: MRC-Arthritis Research UK Centre for Integrated research into Musculoskeletal Ageing (CIMA), and the Bateson centre. 

Research interests

Tissue Repair and Immunity in Ageing (TRIA)

Why we age and whether we can therapeutically prevent associated diseases has been my continued research motivation. And this is because age is the greatest risk factor for chronic diseases such as cancer, frailty, muscle atrophy, arthritis and many others. This means we are living longer than ever before, but with a heavy burden of disease which impacts on our quality of life and poses serious socio-economical challenges we must meet.

Ageing is underlined by a progressive decline in tissues ability to repair and maintain themselves. This is what is called tissue homeostasis impairment and sets the ground for age-associated diseases.

A key mechanism contributing to this is telomere shortening and dysfunction. In organisms with restricted telomerase activity, which is the case of humans and zebrafish, telomeres shorten and get damaged with ageing, causing cells to die or become senescent.

Senescent cells no longer divide and secrete factors that somehow impair the repair capacity of our tissues and organs, thereby contributing to disease.

Tissue homeostasis requires a tight balance between the clearance of senescent and damaged cells by the immune system and the replenishing of new cells from the stem cell niche.

My research programme focuses on understanding the interplay between immune regulation and tissue homeostasis in health and with ageing, using zebrafish as a model.

My ultimate aim is to identify therapeutic targets that can be used to incentivate tissue rejuvenation and ameliorate multiple co-morbidities of ageing.


Show: Featured publications All publications

Journal articles


Conference proceedings papers


All publications

Journal articles


Conference proceedings papers


Teaching activities
  • Lead Academic on Multimorbidity (AUME/MBChB).
  • Co-lead Academic on Gonads to Gametes: Fundamentals of Reproduction Module (MSc in Reproductive and Developmental Medicine).
  • Lecturer in BMS336 Modelling Human Disease and Dysfunction.

Communications in Conferences

  1. October 2017 (plenary talk): Catarina M. Henriques - "Telomeres, telomerase and inflammation in Zebrafish ageing". 3rd Zebrafish for Personalized/Precision Medicine Conference, Toronto, Canada
  2. Catarina M. Henriques, Madalena C. Carneiro, Inês M. Tenente, António Jacinto and Miguel Godinho Ferreira -"Telomerase is required for zebrafish lifespan" Cold Spring Harbour-Molecular Genetics of Aging meeting 2012, USA
  3. Catarina M. Henriques, José Rino, Robert J. Nibbs, Gerry G. Graham, João T. Barata “Chasing the IL-7 receptor: Regulation of interleukin 7 receptor α internalization, recycling and degradation by IL-7” Portuguese Society of Immunology (SPI) annual meeting, Porto, PT
  4. Catarina M. Henriques, José Rino, Robert J. Nibbs, Gerry G. Graham, João T. Barata “Chasing the IL-7 receptor: Regulation of interleukin 7 receptor α internalization, recycling and degradation by IL-7” SINAL- Portuguese annual meeting on Signal Transduction, Porto, PT
Professional activities and memberships
  • Wellcome Trust/Royal Society Sir Henry Dale Fellow
  • CIMA Research Fellow
  • Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow
  • PhD supervisor
  • PhD tutor
  • PATS tutor
  • Treasurer for the BSI Immunosenescence Affinity Group
  • Member of the Bateson Centre Core Management Committee