SEED has won the international Mars One University Competition

Seed was selected by popular vote from an initial 35 university proposals. The aim of the project is to germinate the first seed on Mars and to prove the concept that it is possible to germinate and grow plants on Mars. Besides the social impact of growing the first life form on Mars, the possible scientific outcomes of this experiment could contribute to a better understanding of plant growth on Mars and possibly contribute for the development of life support systems.

The payload will consist of two containers: an external one that will provide protection from the outside environment; and another container holding several cassettes with seeds from the plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Upon landing, the seeds will receive the necessary inputs to germinate, the process will be recorded and the data send back to earth every two days.

Raquel Almeida, a MIT Portugal Bioengineer PhD candidate at 3B's Research Group is one of the 2 PhD candidates of the team. Additionally, the Seed Team counts with 4 students of the Integrated Masters on Bioengineering at Faculty of Engineering (FEUP)/Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar (ICBAS) from the University of Porto and another PhD student from Center of Biological Investigations, University of Madrid. Dr. Maria Helena Carvalho, plant researcher at Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IBMC) and Dr. Jack van Loon, professor at VU Medical Center, University of Amsterdam and scientist at ESTEC-ESA, orienting the team. According to Raquel Almeida "the team is very excited with the news and is now starting to plan the next steps of the project, namely the development of the prototype. For this, we will need to find partners and to raise financial support".

An in-depth technical analysis of the winning proposal will be conducted to ensure that the winner has a feasible plan, that their payload can be integrated on the 2018 Mars lander, and that the experiment will be carried out in compliance with the current COSPAR planetary protection policy. Mars One and its advisers will contribute to the analysis by thoroughly and critically examining the Seed proposal. The seeds will fly to Mars on the Mars One's 2018 unmanned lander mission.

SEED

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Sara Freitas awarded with the Gulbenkian Prize for Young Researchers 2014

sara2Sara Freitas, was awarded with the Young researchers Gulbenkian Prize (Prémio de Estímulo à Investigação 2014) with the topic Validation of a solar potential model for the urban environment including facades, with supervision of Miguel Centeno Brito. Sara Freitas is  a Sustainable Energy Systems PhD Candidate at IDL (Instituto Dom Luís), under the  MIT Portugal Program.

The award is promoted by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and open to young researchers under 26, working at Portuguese scientific institutions. This year, the foundation recognized the work of 8 young researchers working if diverse fields such as Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Earth and Space Sciences.

Sara Freita’s awarded  research plan includes the experimental validation of the 3D solar model SOL, developed by a multidisciplinary team of the Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, using long term data of a real system installed in a facade, as well as comparison with alternative methods for photovoltaic potential assessment.

At IDL website.

[ pdf Comunicado de Imprensa em Português

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MIT Portugal PhD Candidate Receives Fulbright to Study the Regulation of Cellular Therapy

Miguel Amador cropMIT Portugal program PhD candidate Miguel Amador has received a Fulbright award enabling him to study at MIT. Starting in September, Amador will be studying the regulatory frameworks relating to technological innovation in breakthrough therapies such as cellular therapies, and their effect on patient access to the therapies.

[ pdf Comunicado de Imprensa em Português ]

Cell therapies represent a complex new technological platform in health care that challenges the traditional way medicines are developed and authorized to enter into the market and reimbursed. These new technologies have promoted the development of integrative regulatory frameworks, such as the adaptive licensing model, extensively studied by Professor Kenneth Oye, associate professor of Political Science and of Engineering Systems at MIT. This model is already under a pilot test in Europe. Fulbright recipient Amador will work with Professor Oye on how to enable adaptive frameworks in current US and EU clinical, political and economic contexts.

Amador has already performed several case studies in Portugal, Spain, and France, identifying specific stakeholders and bottlenecks in the regulatory process. A comparison of the current US and EU regulatory frameworks will allow evaluation of the effect of current regulations on timely and sustainable access to new therapies, like those based in the use of cells.

While at MIT, Amador will work on regulations from the perspective of patient health and medical records, a novel approach in this field of research. The aim is to propose policies and tools that are needed for enabling new adaptive regulatory frameworks, for instance, in the expansion of the continuous use of patients’ clinical data on the regulatory and reimbursement evaluations.

At the same time, Amador aims to work with industry partners and compare the development of the new field of cell therapies with other more familiar technological platforms for medicines, such as small molecule (e.g., aspirin) and biological (e.g., monoclonal antibodies). This will allow the design of adaptive frameworks to be also able to incorporate technological innovations into the product lifecycle, addressing the specific challenges of cell therapies.

This research approach – considering an international vision of different countries’ regulatory frameworks – can lead to the development of effective public policies, namely in Portugal, where the field of cell therapies is taking its first steps.

Miguel Amador is a PhD candidate at Instituto Superior Técnico under MIT Portugal Program, he is advised in Portugal by Manuel Heitor ( IN+ Center for Innovation, Technology and Policy Research). 

While at MIT, MIT Portugal PhD candidates are also supported through FCT funds. 

 Also at MIT News.

LINNK, a catalyst for innovation in Lisbon powered by MPP PhDs

LINNKLisbon Innovation Kluster, LINNK, is a collaborative ecosystem for innovation where Entrepreneurs, Developers, Creatives and Makers cooperate in the formulation of projects and innovative businesses predominantly focused on Design, IT and Hardware development.

MIT Media Lab atmosphere inspired Joana Rafael and Vasco Portugal, MIT Portugal PhD candidates, to take this brave step into the innovation scene of Portugal. Recently founded, LINNK is located in the heart of Lisbon, merging the best of an innovation laboratory and a co-working office. The result is an unique working environment to learn and create, where each Linnker (person that works at LINNK) is going to find the resources to develop individual projects but the possibility to benefit from the community and available resources to make them bigger, better and cooler.

On September 1st, LINNK is opening its doors with 6 different hubs to incubate talent in the areas of computation (Developers Hub), creativity (Creative Hub), makers (Makers Hub), engineering (Tech Hub), management / marketing (Business Hub) and pure talent (Mix Hub). To apply for a workspace at LINNK follow the link to the Form and its website. Next week LINNK will be hosting a open house for beta testers, it will be open to anyone to try a free day or week in the workspace, anyone interested just need to send an This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to book a day. 

[ pdf Comunicado de imprenda em Português ]

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LINNK

MPP alumna Maria José Pereira recognized at MIT Technology Review’s Annual INNOVATORS UNDER 35 List

MariaJPereiraToday, MIT Technology Review reveals its annual list of Innovators Under 35. For over a decade, the global media company has recognized a list of exceptionally talented technologists whose work has great potential to transform the world. For her work in the field of Biotechnology and Medicine, Maria José Pereira, MIT Portugal Program alumna, has been recognized as an inventor on the list.

Maria José Pereira contributed to the development of a bio-inspired adhesive that could rapidly attach biodegradable patches inside a beating heart—in the exact place where congenital holes in the heart occur, such as ventricular heart defects present on 6 out of 1000 births. The degradable patches remained attached even at increased heart rates and blood pressure. Unlike current surgical adhesives, this new adhesive maintains very strong sticking power when in the presence of blood and it doesn’t need to be replaced as the child grows. This work was developed while Maria José was a PhD candidate under the MIT Portugal, a program funded by the Portuguese Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT). 

At the beginning of this year, Maria José Pereira signed as co-first author the report of this discovery at Science Translational Medicine. The adhesive technology (and other related platforms) has been licensed to a start-up company, Gecko Biomedical, based in Paris, where Maria José Pereira is currently Head of Adhesive Technologies. The company has raised 8 million Euros in their recently announced Series A financing round and expects to bring the adhesive to the market within two to three years.

“Over the years, we’ve had success in choosing young innovators whose work has been profoundly influential on the direction of human affairs,” says editor in chief and publisher Jason Pontin. “Previous winners include Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the cofounders of Google; Mark Zuckerberg, the cofounder of Facebook; Jonathan Ive, the chief designer of Apple; and David Karp, the creator of Tumblr. We’re proud of our selections and the variety of achievements they celebrate, and we’re proud to add Maria José Pereira to this prestigious list.”

 “I am honored to be a part of the innovators under 35 list together with distinguished peers. This recognition emphasizes the innovative character of the adhesive technology platform and its potential to change how minimally invasive surgeries are performed ” says Maria José Pereira.

This year’s honorees will be featured online at technologyreview.com starting today, and in the September/October print magazine, which hits newsstands worldwide on September 2. They will appear in person at the upcoming EmTech MIT conference from September 23–25 in Cambridge, Massachusetts (www.EmTechMIT.com).

[ pdf Comunicado de Imprensa em Português

[article at MIT Tech Review]

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