MIT Portugal Program student awarded with the REN 2017 Prize for the best Master’s Thesis

Bruna Tavares won the REN Award 2017 and a 12.500€ prize with the work developed during her Master´s Thesis. The researcher has created a new monitoring method that prevents electric network failures and increases the quality of service, allowing a more effective way to monitor the power grid. Currently she is a MIT Portugal Program first year PhD student in Sustainable Energy Systems at INESC TEC/ Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP).

To understand the method developed by Bruna Tavares we must think of the concept of a robot that is pursuing a certain route and along the way he picks up light and acoustic signals for directions, using them to create an internal map that helps to explain the outside reality. The researcher´s proposal consists in applying the same concept to the electric system by “using the same method of recording the signals registered from different devices to better understand the conditions of the Portuguese power grid”.

Along the power grid system there are the so-called conventional sensors to measure the conditions of the network, but recently countries like Brazil or Spain use more advanced sensors, which collect measurements of the electrical system displaying the time and GPS location. The cost of these sensors is still relatively high however they can be combined with conventional sensors along the grid.

Currently there are still no advanced sensors installed in the Portuguese power grid system so this method developed by Bruna Tavares suggests their inclusion will allow to gather the information required. According to the researcher it´s this possibility to better understand the electrical network that allows the operator to "control and increase the quality of the network service" and this "will lead to a better performance in the service provided to the consumer."

The researcher at the Center for Energy Systems (CPES) of the Institute for Systems and Computer Engineering, Technology and Science (INESC TEC), explains that " the final consumer takes for granted the electrical power supply at their homes, but to make this happen with quality and accuracy, it´s necessary to take into account several processes."

Bruna Tavares also added: “the method I've developed along with researchers Vladimiro Miranda and Jorge Pereira presents different criteria to estimate measures on the network and despite still not being used by the Industry, have many advantages, namely overlook errors in measurements."

This method was developed during Bruna Tavares Master’s thesis which was supervised by Vladimiro Miranda, INESC TEC Director and full Professor at FEUP and co-supervised by Jorge Pereira, INESC TEC researcher and Professor at the School of Economics and Management of the University of Porto. Currently she is attending the first year of the MIT Portugal Program Sustainable Energy Systems Doctoral Program at INECT TEC/ FEUP to continue and perfect the work developed during her Masters.

In the media: Jornal Económico, Público (P3), Computerworld, Expresso, TV Europa

brunatavaresBruna Tavares

Study led by MPP Faculty Lino Ferreira and MPP Alumni Sezin Aday finds how to increase the survival time of stem cells

A team of researchers from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Coimbra, led by Dr. Lino Ferreira, MIT Portugal Program Faculty and researcher at the Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology (CNC) in collaboration with Langer Lab at MIT (USA), has developed a new technology, which is promising to understand and treat ischemic diseases. This research is the result of the work initiated by Bioengineering PhD Alumni at IST Sezin Aday during her MPP Doctoral Program whose PhD thesis was advised both by Lino Ferreira and Robert Langer. Under MIT Portugal Program she was able to spend the first year’s studies of this work in Langer Lab at MIT.

Ischemic diseases (such as stroke, heart attack, limb ischemia etc.) are caused by the obstruction of a blood vessel preventing blood flow to the tissue and are the leading cause of death around the world. This limited oxygen supply leads to the irreversible damage or death of the tissue. Stem cells might be used to regenerate the tissue with limited oxygen supply by forming new blood vessels and restore blood flow to the tissue. However, most of the cells die after injection and cannot help to have sufficient blood flow recovery.

The team found that by attaching a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) to microscopic particles can increase the survival time of stem cells, which could be used to help healing of the tissues, after the injection into the body. To understand how this protein can increase the survival of the cells, the researchers checked the molecules called “microRNAs”, which are important for the function of the cells. They found that a microRNA called “microRNA-17” has decreased in the stem cells when attached vascular endothelial growth factor was used. To mimic what attached protein does, researchers decreased microRNA-17 amount in their cells and injected them into the leg muscle of the animals after cutting the blood flow to the leg. When the blood flow to the leg is cut, the leg starts to die. This might cause the loss of the toes or even the leg. However, the stem cells with decreased microRNA-17 can recover the blood flow in the leg by staying there longer and forming new blood vessels.

By finding a way to increase the life of the stem cells after injections, researcher can increase their existence in the tissue, thus, might help the regeneration of the tissues after the blockage of blood flow. The technique developed can help researchers to understand and treat other conditions, where survival of the cells is required. This platform might also be used for better integration of the cells to the tissue in cell therapy applications.

Paper “Synthetic microparticles conjugated with VEGF165 improve the survival of endothelial progenitor cells via microRNA-17 inhibition”

In the media: Jornal de Notícias; Diário de Notícias; Atlas da Saúde; PT Jornal; O JOGO; Açores online; Beiranews; Campeão das Províncias; IPress Journal Semanário; Lifestyle ao MinutoTSF - Rádio Notícias; Saúde Online; Sapo24

Sezin Aray PhotoSezin Aray working at CNC

Portuguese delegation led by Minister Manuel Heitor visits MIT

On the 17th and 18th October, a Portuguese delegation led by the Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Manuel Heitor, which also included the President of the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT), Paulo Ferrão, and the CRUP representative, António Cunha, was at MIT in Boston, to discuss and plan the development of a new partnership between Portugal and the American university.

This visit is part of a series of contacts established between the Portuguese stakeholders and the American universities involved in the Science and Education international partnerships, namely MIT, Carnegie Mellon University and yhe University of Texas at Austin, aiming to define a new and more ambitious framework for these impactful international partnerships.

Manuel Heitor MITAntónio Cunha, Manuel Heitor and Paulo Ferrão at MIT

Professor Paulo Ramísio, Pro-Rector of the University of Minho, visit and presentation at MIT

On October 5th Professor Paulo Ramísio, Pro-Rector of the University of Minho, was at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a presentation on the Sustainability values in the University of Minho (UMinho) Institutional Strategy. The session was attended by the MIT Portugal Program (MPP) National Director and Professor at UMinho, Pedro Arezes, who is currently in Boston for a long term stay; Bruce Tidor, Director of MIT Portugal at MIT; Christian Prothmann, MPP Director of Research & Research Scientist; and several MIT and MPP students.

The presentation was focused on the sustainability policies implemented by the University of Minho and the work being done by the Institution - listed in the 400 Times Higher Education Ranking - which started, in 2009, a strategic reflection in order to incorporate Sustainability Values into its Institutional strategy. The session also brought up to discussion issues related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the strategic worldwide priorities and aspirations for 2030. After the commitment of worldwide Governments, it is now expected that all organisations will join this global effort. Higher Education Institutions play an important role in this task and in paving the way for a more sustainable future while supporting other institutions and communities into a sustainability leadership.

Paulo J. Ramísio is an Assistant Professor in the Civil Engineering Department at the Engineering School of the University of Minho. Since 2011 he is Pro-Rector for Infrastructures at the same University.

Lecture 5th October Paulo Ramísio BR.jpg.docx

Opening Lectures 2017/2018 at the University of Minho and University of Coimbra

The EDAM-UMinho marked the start of the semester for the MIT Portugal Program Doctoral Program in Leaders for Technical Industries with an Inaugural Lecture, September 20th, 2017, in Campus of Azurém, Guimarães on the same date as the Opening Lecture of the SES Doctoral Program at the University of Coimbra. 

The inaugural lecture at UMinho had as keynote speaker, Engr. José Manuel Fernandes, chairman of FREZITE, a national cutting tool engineering company. With the title “What do Companies Expect of a Leader for Technical Industries?”, José Manuel Fernandes shared his vision on how industry is changing in Portugal and how knowledge and leadership skills are critical for its evolution. With an emotional and enthusiastic talk, many were the questions raised by the grad and under-grad students in the audience. The EDAM-UMinho coordination offered to the participants two copies of the book “Caminhos do Exportador- Estratégias de Internacionalização” authored by the invited speaker.

The second part of the inaugural lecture was dedicated to storytelling. LTI students and UMinho faculty that had done visiting periods at MIT under the MIT Portugal Program shared their experience in the US institution. They told stories about their time at MIT, specially focusing on their experience in doing research, interacting with other faculty and students, and living at MIT and Boston area. Moreover, the storytellers were also asked about what they brought back to UMinho from their experience at MIT, and how it changed them. The different stories served as motivators for prospective students.

Overall, this was an event with a great feedback, which the EDAM-UMinho coordination intends to repeat at the start of each semester.

Image EDAM Inaugural Lecture

Opening Lecture at Room B1.12 of the Azurém Campus, University of Minho

The Opening Lecture – EfS 2016/2017 at the University of Coimbra entitled "The Circular Economy and the Built Environment was given by Professor Roland Clift, Emeritus Professor of Environmental Technology and founding Director of the Centre for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Surrey, UK.

The event was focused on the idea of the “Circular Economy”, currently much discussed in connection with environmental policy, has been familiar for decades in the field of industrial ecology.  The circular economy aspires to improve resource efficiency by focussing on “closing loops” for material flows through the economy, to reduce dissipative losses.  This approach is potentially valuable for material products with short service lives, such as packaging and some IT devices.  However, for products (such as buildings and vehicles) with long service lives, the focus needs to be on maximising the utility obtained from products and materials in use; i.e. the focus should be on stock in use rather than flows through the economy.  This lecture will explore the implications of focussing on stocks rather than flows, and how the ideas embodied in the “Circular Economy” must be adapted for the construction sector and the built environment.

Opening Lecture 207 2018 UCoimbra

Opening Lecture at the Auditorium of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Coimbra