Dr. Portera-Cailliau was born and raised in Madrid, Spain. He obtained a B.A. in Biochemistry & Cell Biology from U.C. San Diego in 1990. He then attended the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and obtained an MD-PhD degree in 1997. His mentors were Drs. Donald Price and Lee Martin.
After finishing a residency in Neurology at The Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston in 2001, Dr. Portera-Cailliau moved to Columbia University for a post-doctoral fellowship in Dr. Rafael Yuste's laboratory. His second post-doc was with Dr. Karel Svoboda in Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
He joined the UCLA faculty in November 2004 and has joint appointments in the Departments of Neurology and Neurobiology. He is a member of UCLA's BRI and ACCESS.