Prof. Quintanilha was born in 1945 in Mozambique. He completed his PhD training in Physics at Witwatersrand University (Johannesburg) in 1972. He then spent the next twenty years of his professional career in Berkeley at the University of California. In Portugal he was the President of the Scientific Council for the Pavilion of Knowledge and has chaired numerous evaluation committees that award research grants in areas of biology, biotechnology, and environmental sciences.
At the European Commission, he chaired the Ethical, Legal and Social Aspects (ELSA) of Technology for several years, and was on the Bureau of the European Science and Technology Assembly (ESTA). He continues to represent Portugal on a number of international committees, and is currently the chair of the Working-Group on Human Related Biotechnology at the OECD. He was appointed to the Committee on Research and Exploration of National Geographic (Washington, DC).
He has coordinated more than one hundred advanced courses, on a variety of subjects, in many countries around the world. More recently, he has become particularly interested in the topic of understanding and communicating risk. He organized the meeting of the Academia Europaea on this topic (2002). At the European Science Foundation, since 2003, he chairs the "Life, Earth and Environmental Sciences Standing Committee" (LESC). Since December 2005 he is the Secretary for the Portuguese Council of Associate Laboratories. He was nominated as the Portuguese representative for biochemistry at Academia Europaea.