Where Ideas Grow

i3S launches a center of excellence in Molecular Bioengineering

On the 27th of January, i3S held the Launch event of the MOBILIsE project, an ERA Chair funded by the European Commission with 2.5 M€, which aims to position i3S as a European reference in the field of Molecular Bioengineering, in particular focusing on Materials Engineering and Nanotechnology. This event counted with the presence of the Portuguese Minister for Science, Technology, and Higher Education, Elvira Fortunato, who also took the opportunity to visit the facilities of i3S.

According to Helena Azevedo, the ERA Chair holder, the project “will increase the national research and innovation potential, while boosting the translation of novel molecular targets towards the creation of diagnostics tools and molecular therapies in precision medicine in the main research areas of i3S: cancer, infection, neurodegenerative disorders, and tissue repair/regeneration”.

Molecular Bioengineering will contribute, for example, to improving the availability and efficacy of the existing drugs, to enable treatment in a more accessible and will lower side effects, as well as creating 2D and 3D innovative in vitro models to accelerate disease-related research and develop more efficient therapies.

Another great focus of MOBILIsE, adds Cristina Martins, the project coordinator, “is to increase the translational potential of research developed at i3S and to promote technology transfer to the clinics and industry”. For that, different activities will be promoted targeting key national and international partners, namely from academia, research institutes, the clinic, and industry.

The subject of knowledge transfer was widely debated in the Launch event, in which i3S young researchers presented their awarded innovation projects, along with the challenges faced when juggling an academic career with initiatives geared towards startup creation or commercial exploitation were highlighted.

A productive debate regarding the challenges faced during the clinical and translation of results, in which the President of the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology, Madalena Alves, was present, as well as representatives of different sectors involved in this process, in particular, industry, clinics and funding and regulatory agencies. The participants highlighted the fundamental role of the Technology Transfer Offices in creating bridges between research and the market, insisting on the need for research organizations to have professionals with management and health economics competencies, as well as prior industry experience.