Margarida graduated in Biology from the University of Porto. She entered the GABBA PhD program and moved to the United States to do her PhD research in the group of Manyuan Long at the University of Chicago. After her PhD, Margarida joined the group of Andrew G. Clark at Cornell University for a postdoc. While at Chicago and Cornell, Margarida studied the evolution of genetic novelties in flies. Her research focused on understanding how new duplicated genes are created, their early dynamics in populations and why some eventually become fixed.
Over time, Margarida’s research interests expanded to include the genetic and developmental bases of new phenotypes. That led Margarida to return to Europe and join the group of Henrik Kaessmann, first at the University of Lausanne and then at Heidelberg University. Margarida spearheaded a research program aimed at understanding the evolution of mammalian organs, for which she received the Otto-Schmeil prize from the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences in 2020.
Margarida started her group at the Francis Crick Institute in 2021. She studies how new organs originate and how they subsequently change in form and function across species. Margarida’s group is investigating these fundamental questions by studying the placenta, an organ that has evolved independently at least 100 times across vertebrates and which shows an incredible diversity of forms and functions across different species.