Joaquim Reis, PhD, is a Psychologist and a Researcher at Institute of Biophysics and Biomedical Engineering of the University of Lisbon where he is investigating the brain mediating mechanisms of psychosocial distress and health effects in cancer patients. Chronic and severe distress has impact on cancer progression through the dysregulation of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA)-axis and activates the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), impacting the cardio-vascular, immune, and endocrine systems and on brain structure and function. These alterations contribute to biological activities (e.g., changing in circadian cortisol levels, catecholamine production, activation of proinflammatory cytokines, regulation of leucocyte and tumor cell gene expression and cellular immune suppression) that can promote cancer growth and metastasis. Although negative affect has been associated with metabolic abnormality in some brain regions in non-cancer patients, little is known about the brain networks, regions or circuits that can contribute to individual differences in distress states and health outcomes in treated cancer patients. The main questions that underlie his research are:
- How do changes in affect (and other psychosocial experiences such as social well-being) are translated in neural signaling pathways that can modulate peripheral immune cells and cancer cells in ways that could influence cancer disease course?
- What type of integrative research strategies can we develop to increase the knowledge about the brain mediated mechanisms of distress and health effects in cancer patients?
- How can we use developments in neuroimaging to examine associations among brain activity, psychological states, and peripheral neuroendocrine and immune processes in cancer patients and associate these to longer-term clinical outcomes?
At the present, he is a Post-Doctoral fellow in a project entitled DistressBrain – Distress and regional brain metabolism: a correlational study in metastatic breast cancer patients, running at Clinical Centre at Fundação Champalimaud and with the participation of Institute Gulbenkian of Science, IBEB and Mike Antoni, from the University of Miami. This project is funded by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia PTDC/MHC-PSC/3897/2014.
Joaquim Reis has been PI and Coordinator of several scientific projects in the domain of Health Psychology and Psychotherapy, funded by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia. Was a Post-Doctoral fellow at University of Coimbra, 2008-2011, investigating the embodiment of well-being.
Since 1993 has been Professor in several universities (Faculty of Psychology, University of Lisbon; Institute of Social Work, Lisbon; IPAM, the Marketing School, Lisbon, IADE, Lisboa, Universidade Europeia).
Coordinated the PhD Program in Social Work (Institute of Social Work of Lisbon with Catholic University of S. Paulo, Brasil supported by Instituto de Cooperação Científica e Tecnológica Internacional (ICCTI) and CAPES.
Coordinated a Master in Clinical Health Psychology and several other post-graduations courses: Psycho-Oncology; Psychotherapy; Health Psychology and Neuromarketing (consumer neuroscience).
Published two books in the domain of Heath Psychology: The Hippocrate’s smile: the biopsychossocial integration of health and disease processes. Lisboa, Vega, 1998 (awarded by the Portuguese ministry of culture) and What is health? Lisboa: Vega, 2005. Author of the DVD Communication skills for health professionals and communication of bad news (90´) Sponsored by Novartis Oncology. Recommended for training oncologists by the I*care program of MD Anderson Cancer Centre, Houston, USA. Author of the self-help manuscripts for helping cancer patients and their families to deal with the disease posted in the site www.infocancro.pt (Sponsored by Roche). Author of the Self-help book for women with breast cancer “Improve your well-being” (Viva Mulher Viva Association) sponsored by Johnson & Johnson. Author of the drama In search of well-being: women coping with breast cancer, performed by the drama group A Barraca.
He has published his scientific works on Health Psychology and Psycho-Oncology in national and international journals and in scientific meetings around the world.
His PhD was about the development of a psychotherapeutic intervention (based on a constructivist and developmental methodology) to help cardiac surgery inpatients to cope with their emotional distress.