Santa Maria Health School

Faculty Name



Institute for Physiotherapy, Institute of Health Care and Nursing

Our university

Santa Maria Health School, established in 2016 under the auspices of the Portuguese Province of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady, carries forward the esteemed legacy of ESESM (Nursing School of Santa Maria). This institution traces its roots back to 1949 when nursing education commenced at Santa Maria Hospital (Porto), primarily catering to the practical needs of nursing sisters providing care without formal recognition. Formal institutionalization occurred in 1952 with governmental authorization for the Nursing School of the Franciscan Sisters of Calais. In 1960, a dedicated school building was erected adjacent to Santa Maria Hospital, marking the school’s autonomy.

Over the years, the institution expanded its offerings, transitioning through various names until adopting the current moniker, “Santa Maria Health School.” Today, it is an integral part of the higher education polytechnic system, offering degrees in Nursing and Physiotherapy, alongside Long-term care courses, post-graduations, and additional free courses. Accredited by APCER and A3ES, it maintains rigorous standards in education and certification.

Our mission is to train competent healthcare professionals, emphasizing scientific, technical, and humanistic values while upholding ethical standards. We aspire to be a beacon of excellence in healthcare education, particularly in active and healthy aging. Our objectives include providing internationally recognized training, fostering research, facilitating continuous professional development, and engaging with the community for social, economic, and cultural advancement. As part of our social responsibility, we contribute to active citizenship and social cohesion, addressing emerging community needs through volunteer project initiatives.

Our team

Daniela Simões

Lecturer and Physiotherapy Degree Coordinator

I’m Daniela Simões, a lecturer and Physiotherapy Degree Coordinator at Santa Maria Health School. My teaching focus is on evidence-based practice, research, statistics, and public health and my aim is to equip Physiotherapy students with solid fundamentals. My academic background is a bachelor’s degree in Physiotherapy (2007), a Master in Epidemiology (2012), a PhD in Public Health (2018) and an Executive MBA (2020). Outside academia, I enjoy spending time with loved ones, reading, watching movies, traveling, and exploring culinary delights.

Cristiane Silva

Adjunct Professor and Coordinator of Postgraduate in Nephrology

I’m Cristiane Silva, an adjunct professor in Nursing and Coordinator of Postgraduate in Nephrology at Santa Maria Health School. Specializing in epidemiology, infection control, and quality care for adults and the elderly, my journey includes extensive research and projects. I hold a Nursing and Obstetrics degree from USP, a Nursing Degree from ESSJP, a Master’s in Adult Health from the University of São Paulo, and a Doctorate in Health Sciences from the University of São Paulo and University of Porto.

Diogo Silva

Lecturer and Coordinator of the Research and Projects Center

I graduated in physiotherapy (2011), with a Master’s in Sports Physiotherapy (2013) from Porto School of Health and a PhD in Physiotherapy (2018) from the Faculty of Sports, University of Porto. Since 2012, I balance clinical practice with teaching and research, currently lecturing at Santa Maria Health School. Since 2021, I’m Coordinator of the Research and Projects Center at Santa Maria Health School and as a Researcher at the Rehabilitation Research Center at Polytechnic of Porto.

Duarte Pereira


I earned my physiotherapy degree from the Coimbra School of Health Technology in 2003, followed by a master’s (2007) and a PhD in Public Health (2013) from the University of Porto Medical School. With 19 years of experience, I’m specialized in neuro-muscle-skeletal conditions in hospital and private settings. My academic focus centers on orthopedics, rheumatology, and healthy aging. Currently, I’m a professor at Santa Maria Health School in Porto, Portugal.

Vanessa Sousa

Project Manager

I’m Vanessa Sousa, a Project Manager at Santa Maria Health School. With a Master’s in Literary, Cultural, and Interart Studies and a Bachelor’s in Portuguese and Lusophone Studies from the University of Porto, I oversee national and international R&D projects in health and education. Despite my academic background in Comparative Literature, I gained project management experience as a Science and Technology Management Fellow for 3 years at an R&D Unit. Outside work, I strive to maintain involvement in literary activities.