Where Ideas Grow

Mário Barbosa awarded with two merit medals

Mário Barbosa, leader of the “Microenvironments for New Therapies” group, first director of the i3S, Professor Emeritus of the University of Porto, and retired Full Professor at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar (ICBAS) was recently awarded two Medals of Merit for his contributions to Education and Science: one awarded by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education (MCTES), and the second by the Municipality of Vila do Conde.

Manuel Heitor, Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, personally bestowed the Medal of Scientific Merit on Mário Barbosa for his career as a researcher and teacher. This award was made during the event “Science 2021 - Meeting with Science and Technology in Portugal”, promoted by FCT in collaboration with Ciência Viva and with the support of MCTES, which took place on the 28th to the 30th of June under the theme “The Science that makes Tomorrow and transforms the Economy”.

For Mário Barbosa, being in this “scientific event” with people he “admires so much” was “exciting”. “We were all different, because each of us has believed in something different, to which we have dedicated years of life. But we were all equal in our conviction of the transforming role of knowledge. We look back and discern a career, but when we started, there was no path”, he explains.

A few days earlier, on June 24, Mário Barbosa was also honored by the Vila do Conde City Council, in a ceremony organized to honor Vilaneese of “excellence” that bring “prestige” to the municipality. This public acknowledgment of his work, confesses the investigator, “was very touching”. “The enthusiasm with which I set up, at the Centro Ciência Viva in Vila do Conde, an exhibition that was supposed to be temporary, but which has been alive for 14 years, was enough reason for satisfaction and pride”, he adds.

Mário Barbosa has participated in several events to promote scientific culture among young people, and was amongst those responsible for the permanent exhibition on “Water in the human body – Blood” which has been on display at the Centro Ciência Viva in Vila do Conde since October the 30th, 2007. “It was built to respond to the curiosity of secondary school boys in the county, who asked extraordinary questions and set the tone for the exhibition. Today they are all adults. I hope that in some it awoke a passion for science”.

About Mário Barbosa

With a degree in metallurgical engineering from the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP) in 1972, Mário Barbosa, 70 years old, born in Azurara (Vila do Conde), holds a PhD in materials science from the University of Leeds (United Kingdom) and specialized in the field of biomedical engineering specifically biomaterials. He became a Professor at FEUP in 1991, where he remained as Full Professor until 2011, when he moved to the Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar (ICBAS).

Invited by Nuno Grande, Professor at ICBAS, he joined the working group that was responsible for creating the National Institute of Biomedical Engineering (INEB), which would be formally created in June 1989. INEB was the first research institute to be created in this area in Portugal, and was one of the founding institutes of i3S, the largest health research center in the country. Mário Barbosa was President of the Board of INEB (2000-2006 and 2009-2012) and the first Director of i3S (2015-2019).

He was President of JNICT - National Board for Scientific and Technological Research (1992-1994), the entity that gave rise to FCT, and President of the Scientific Council of Engineering Sciences of FCT (2002-2005). He was also a member of the Board of Directors of the European Biomaterials Society (1991-1995). In 2019, he was elected Secretary of the International Union of Biomaterials Science and Engineering Societies, which brings together scientific biomaterials societies worldwide.

During his scientific career, Mário Barbosa played a leading role in the launch of doctoral programs at FEUP and ICBAS, in the area of Bioengineering, and in the launch of the Integrated Master in Bioengineering (MIB), of which he was the first Director. This Master's course began operating in 2006 and is one of the courses with the highest average entry into higher education in Portugal. He has supervised 21 doctoral theses and published more than 280 articles in international scientific journals.

In addition to these two Medals of Merit, Mário Barbosa has received several awards throughout his career. Among them, the “George Winter Award”, awarded by the European Society of Biomaterials (ESB), stands out, which marks the excellence of the work carried out by a renowned researcher. More recently, he received the Klaas de Groot 2020 Award, also awarded by the ESB, which recognizes scientists who perform an outstanding role as mentors to young researchers.

Retired from teaching this academic year, Mário Barbosa has been part of the U.Porto Professors Emeritus gallery since last March, an honorary title reserved for retired or retired professors who have stood out not only for their service to the University but also to Science and Society in general.

He currently leads the research group “Microenvironments for New Therapies” at i3S and coordinates the working group for the “One Health” initiative at ICBAS, whose work focuses on promoting synergies and complementarities between human health, animal and ecosystems, both in research and in high-level training