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Vitor Matos

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Ciência Vitae profile

+351 239240700
Research Interests
History of Health and Diseases
Infectious diseases
Biocultural models

Vítor Matos is an anthropologist (MSc Human Evolution; PhD Biological Anthropology, University of Coimbra) at the Research Centre for Anthropology and Health (CIAS), Department of Life Sciences, University of Coimbra, Portugal. He coordinates CIAS’ research group “Past Cultures and Populations” and is associate editor of the journal “Antropologia Portuguesa”. His research is focused on human infectious diseases, especially leprosy and tuberculosis, by adopting biocultural and paleoepidemiological approaches. He is specially interested in the intersections between paleopathology and medical history by combining skeletal evidence with data derived from archives of old Portuguese hospitals (e.g.: the Hospital-Colónia Rovisco Pais – the last Portuguese leprosaria; the Sanatorium Carlos Vasconcelos Porto, São Brás de Alportel, Algarve; the Saint Lazarus Hospital/Coimbra University Hospitals, Coimbra). Vítor Matos teaches topics on biological anthropology, paleopathology, (paleo)epidemiology, medical anthropology, and forensic anthropology.


Biological Anthropology



Medical anthropology

Forensic anthropology

Main Publications

Rodrigues, C. O., Matos, V. M. J., Ferreira, M. T., & Gonçalves, D. (2022). Time burnt away: the impact of heat-induced changes on skeletal age-at-death diagnostic features. Science & Justice, 62(5), 477-483. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scijus.2022.07.005

Marques, C., Roberts, C., Matos, V. M. J., & Buikstra, J. E. (2021). Cancers as rare diseases: terminological, theoretical, and methodological biases. International Journal of Paleopathology, 32, 111-122. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpp.2020.12.005

Melo, L., Matos, V. M. J., Santos, A. L., Ferreira, C., & Silva, A. M. (2021). The first probable evidence of leprosy in a male individual (17th-19th century AD) unearthed in Northern Portugal (Travanca, Santa Maria da Feira). International Journal of Paleopathology, 32, 80-86. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpp.2020.12.001

Pfrengle, S., Neukamm, J., Guellil, M., Keller, M., Molak, M., Avanzi, C., […], Matos, V. M. J., […], Schuenemann, V. J. (2021). Mycobacterium leprae diversity and population dynamics in medieval Europe from novel ancient genomes. BMC Biology, 19(1), 220. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12915-021-01120-2

Santos, A. L., & Matos, V. M. J. (2019). Contribution of paleopathology to the knowledge of the origin and spread of tuberculosis: evidence from Portugal. Antropologia Portuguesa, 36, 47-65. http://doi.org/10.14195/2182-7982_36_3

Marques, C., Matos, V., Costa, T., Zink, A., & Cunha, E. (2018). Absence of evidence or evidence of absence? A discussion on paleoepidemiology of neoplasms with contributions from two Portuguese human skeletal reference collections (19th-20th century). International Journal of Paleopathology, 21, 83-95. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpp.2017.03.005

Matos, V. M. J., & Santos, A. L. (2015). Trends in mortality from pulmonary tuberculosis before and after antibiotics in the Portuguese sanatorium Carlos Vasconcelos Porto (1918-1991): archival evidence and its paleopathological relevance. Tuberculosis, 95(Supplement 1), S101-S104. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tube.2015.02.008

Matos, V. M. J., & Santos, A. L. (2013). Leprogenic odontodysplasia: new evidence from the St. Jørgen’s medieval leprosarium cemetery (Odense, Denmark). Anthropological Science, 121(1), 43-47. http://dx.doi.org/10.1537/ase.121112

Antunes-Ferreira, N., Matos, V. M. J., & Santos, A. L. (2013). Leprosy in individuals unearthed near the Ermida de Santo André and Leprosarium of Beja, Portugal. Anthropological Science, 121(3), 149-159. https://doi.org/10.1537/ase.130702

Matos, V., Marques, C., & Lopes, C. (2011). Severe vertebral collapse in a juvenile from the graveyard (13th/14th–19th centuries) of the São Miguel church (Castelo Branco, Portugal): differential palaeopathological diagnosis. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, 21(2), 208-217. https://doi.org/10.1002/oa.1125

Matos, V. (2009). Broken ribs: paleopathological analysis of costal fractures in the human identified skeletal collection from the Museu Bocage, Lisbon, Portugal (late 19th to middle 20th centuries). American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 140(1), 25-38. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.21032

Matos, V., & Santos, A. L. (2006). On the trail of pulmonary tuberculosis based on rib lesions: results from the Human Identified Skeletal Collection from the Museu Bocage (Lisbon, Portugal). American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 130(2), 190-200. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.20309

Matos, V. M. J., Santos, A. L., & Deps, P. D. (2022). Paleopatologia da hanseníase: o que revelam os esqueletos. In P. Deps (Ed.), Hanseníase na prática clínica (pp. 369-378). São Paulo: Editora dos Editores.

Marques, C., Matos, V., & Meinzer, N. (2019). Proliferative periosteal reactions: assessment of trends in Europe over the past two millennia. In R. Steckel, C. Larsen, C. Roberts, & J. Baten (Eds.), The backbone of Europe: health, diet, work and violence over two millennia (pp. 137-174). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 978-1-108-42195-9.

Matos, V. M. J., & Santos, A. L. (2013). Diagnóstico, terapêutica e investigação científica. In S. Xavier & P. Providência (Eds.), Leprosaria Nacional: modernidade e ruína no Hospital-Colónia Rovisco Pais (pp. 99-123. ISBN: 978-989-8217-8225-8217). Porto: Dafne Editora.

Matos, V. M. J., & Santos, A. L. (2013). Os bons ares do barrocal algarvio: a tuberculose em ferroviários internados no Sanatório Carlos Vasconcelos Porto. In A. R. Mendes, A. P. D. Oliveira, & C. F. Santos (Eds.), Contributo para a história da Saúde no Algarve (pp. 193-209). Faro: Centro de Estudos de Património e História do Algarve (CEPHA), Faculdade de Ciências Humanas e Sociais, Universidade do Algarve.

Research Projects

“Characterisation of metastatic bone lesions by neutron spectroscopy”
2022 – 2023; Science and Technology Facilities Council, UK (Project IDs: 2220018 – TOSCA; 2220019 – MAPS)
Coord.: Luis Batista de Carvalho (University of Coimbra)

“Unveiling biological and sociocultural determinants on the coevolution of human tuberculosis and leprosy in the last two millennia through anthropological and genetic analysis of Portuguese skeletal populations”
2015 – 2020; Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (IF/00186/2014/CP1223/CT0009)
Coord.: Vítor Matos (University of Coimbra)

“Reconstruction of new ancient Mycobacterium leprae genomes from Europe”
2018 – 2020; University of Tubingen, Germany; University of Zurich, Switzerland
Coord.: Verena J. Schuenemann (Institute of Evolutionary Medicine, University of Zurich, Switzerland)

“Immaterial and material memories of the last Portuguese leprosarium – Hospital-Colony Rovisco Pais (1947-1996)”
2018 – 2019; Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation, Japan
Coord.: Centro de Medicina de Reabilitação da Região Centro Rovisco Pais

“Global History of Health Project (European module)”
2015 – 2019; National Science Foundation, USA (NSF/SES-0138129)
Coords.: Richard Steckel (Ohio State University, USA), Clark Larsen (Ohio State University, USA), Charlotte Roberts (Durham University, UK), Joerg Baten (University of Tubingen, Germany)