Carlos Portera-Cailliau was born and raised in Madrid, Spain, where he attended the Lycée Français. He obtained a B.A. in biochemistry and cell biology from University of California, San Diego, in 1990 and then attended the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where he obtained an M.D.-Ph.D. degree in 1997. After finishing a residency in neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston as chief resident in 2001, Portera-Cailliau moved to Columbia University for a postdoctoral fellowship in Rafael Yuste’s laboratory and a clinical fellowship in movement disorders under Stanley Fahn. He then completed a second postdoc with Karel Svoboda at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
Portera-Cailliau joined the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), faculty in 2005 and is now a full professor in the departments of neurology and neurobiology. In 2013, he was appointed co-director of the UCLA-Caltech Medical Scientist Training program. The Portera-Cailliau laboratory investigates how developmental defects in brain network connectivity directly lead to symptoms of autism, learning disability and intellectual dysfunction. In particular, they are studying how sensory hypersensitivity contributes to learning impairments in a model of fragile X syndrome by combining in vivo two-photon calcium imaging, patch-clamp electrophysiology, and behavior. His lab is currently funded by two National Institutes of Health R01s and two large grants from the John Merck Fund and the Department of Defense.