Monica has a degree in psychology from Fluminense Federal University (UFF – Brazil). In 1995, Monica initiated her activities at the NIH Clinical Trials Unit (CTU) of Rio de Janeiro Federal University, where she worked on phase I, II and IIB clinical trials of HIV drugs and vaccines. During her time at the CTU she oversaw the creation of the first Community Advisory Board (CAB) linked to a research center in Brazil. Since 1999 she has served as the CAB liaison and Community Affairs/ Community Education Coordinator for the CTU. Monica was also a member of the WHO – UNAIDS HIV Vaccine Advisory Committee (VAC), from 2005 to 2010.
Prior to her work with clinical trials, Monica was actively involved with the HIV/ AIDS advocacy movement in Brazil. For seven years she was the President and Executive Director of Grupo Pela Vidda/ Niterói, a leading HIV/AIDS NGO, in Rio de Janeiro State. Among other prestigious roles, in 2001, Monica was selected as the civil society member of the official Brazilian delegation at the UNGASS on HIV/ AIDS (United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS).