creating a
healthier future
Isabel Amaral
Associate Researcher

Isabel Amaral (IA) graduated in Aquatic Sciences in 1987 at the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences from UPorto.She dedicated the first years of her professional life to the field of marine aquaculture, working as a biologist in a private company of turbot intensive rearing. She set up the first turbot hatchery and nursery in the north of Portugal, including salt-water microalgae and zooplankton mass cultures. Then she moved to academia to pursue a PhD program in Biomedical Engineering with Mário Barbosa and Pedro Granja at INEB (Instituto Nacional de Engenharia Biomédica). The PhD studies resulted in the thesis entitled "Chitosan Matrices for Cell-based Bone Regenerative Therapies (FEUP, 2006). In the same year, IA joined Ana P. Pêgo’s research team of INEB as a Post-Doc fellow, to address the challenging issue of regenerating the damaged central nervous system (CNS). The Post-Doc studies were carried out at INEB and at the lab of Prof. James Kirkpatrick (Johannes Gutenberg University, Germany). In the framework of the Post-Doc studies, IA developed a pre-vascularized scaffold for neural stem cell delivery into the injured spinal cord. In 2009, she was appointed assistant investigator in the framework of Programa Ciência 2008, and in 2013, she became a contracted researcher of INEB. Presently IA is an associated researcher of i3S at the NanoBiomaterials for Targeted Therapies (nBTT) group ( and the scientific coordinator of the Biointerfaces and Nanotechnology platform of i3S ( IAmaral has participated in 13 scientific projects in the field of regenerative medicine, as team member as well as principal investigator (I Amaral is the PI of three research projects).

Research interests:

  • Functionalization of hydrogel matrices (PEG-based, Fibrin) with cell-instructive adhesive and soluble cues to direct cell/tissue response in the CNS.
  • Laminin, laminin peptides, and synthetic peptides interacting with laminin receptors.
  • Injectable hydrogels for transplantation of neural progenitors.
  • 3-D hydrogel platforms for neural tissue engineering.
  • Cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions in 3D microenvironments.

Selected Publications

Silva J., Bento A.R., Barros D., Laundos T.L., Sousa S.R., Quelhas P., Sousa M.M., Pêgo A.P., Amaral I.F.,
Fibrin functionalization with synthetic adhesive ligands interacting with a6ß1 integrin receptor enhance neurite outgrowth of embryonic stem cell-derived neural stem/progenitors. Acta Biomaterialia59:243-256, 2017. [Journal: Article] [CI: 16] [IF: 6,4]
DOI: 10.1016/j.actbio.2017.07.013 SCOPUS: 85023776762.

Bento A.R., Quelhas P., Oliveira M.J., Pêgo A.P., Amaral I.F.,
Three-dimensional culture of single embryonic stem-derived neural/stem progenitor cells in fibrin hydrogels: neuronal network formation and matrix remodelling. Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine11(12):3494-3507, 2017. [Journal: Article] [CI: 23] [IF: 4,1]
DOI: 10.1002/term.2262 SCOPUS: 85007489760.

Laundos T.L., Silva J., Assunção M., Quelhas P., Monteiro C., Oliveira C., Oliveira M.J., Pêgo A.P., Amaral I.F.,
Rotary orbital suspension culture of embryonic stem cell-derived neural stem/progenitor cells: impact of hydrodynamic culture on aggregate yield, morphology and cell phenotype. Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine11(8):2227-2240, 2017. [Journal: Article] [CI: 5] [IF: 4,1]
DOI: 10.1002/term.2121 SCOPUS: 84975769766.

Barros D., Amaral I.F., Pêgo A.P.,
Biomimetic synthetic self-assembled hydrogels for cell transplantation. Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry15(13):1209-1226, 2015. [Journal: Article] [CI: 13] [IF: 2,9]
DOI: 10.2174/1568026615666150330111057 SCOPUS: 84929622149.

Amaral I.F., Neiva I., Ferreira Da Silva F., Sousa S.R., Piloto A.M., Lopes C.D.F., Barbosa M.A., Kirkpatrick C.J., Pêgo A.P.,
Endothelialization of chitosan porous conduits via immobilization of a recombinant fibronectin fragment (rhFNIII7-10). Acta Biomaterialia9(3):5643-5652, 2013. [Journal: Article] [CI: 18] [IF: 5,7]
DOI: 10.1016/j.actbio.2012.10.029 SCOPUS: 84873199566.

Vasconcelos D.P., Costa M., Amaral I.F., Barbosa M.A., Águas A.P., Barbosa J.N.,
Modulation of the inflammatory response to chitosan through M2 macrophage polarization using pro-resolution mediators. Biomaterials37:116-123, 2015. [Journal: Article] [CI: 118] [IF: 8,4]
DOI: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2014.10.035 SCOPUS: 84922253992.

Amaral I.F., Unger R.E., Fuchs S., Mendonça A.M., Sousa S.R., Barbosa M.A., Pêgo A.P., Kirkpatrick C.J.,
Fibronectin-mediated endothelialisation of chitosan porous matrices. Biomaterials30(29):5465-5475, 2009. [Journal: Article] [CI: 36] [IF: 7,4]
DOI: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2009.06.056 SCOPUS: 68549107574.

Oliveira S.M., Mijares D.Q., Turner G., Amaral I.F., Barbosa M.A., Teixeira C.C.,
Engineering endochondral bone: In vivo studies. Tissue Engineering - Part A15(3):635-643, 2009. [Journal: Article] [CI: 51] [IF: 4,7 (*)]
DOI: 10.1089/ten.tea.2008.0052 SCOPUS: 64549096039.

Amaral I.F., Granja P.L., Barbosa M.A.,
Chemical modification of chitosan by phosphorylation: An XPS, FT-IR and SEM study. Journal of Biomaterials Science, Polymer Edition16(12):1575-1593, 2005. [Journal: Article] [CI: 386] [IF: 1,4]
DOI: 10.1163/156856205774576736 SCOPUS: 33644875542.

Amaral I.F., Lamghari M., Sousa S.R., Sampaio P., Barbosa M.A.,
Rat bone marrow stromal cell osteogenic differentiation and fibronectin adsorption on chitosan membranes: The effect of the degree of acetylation. Journal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A75(2):387-397, 2005. [Journal: Article] [CI: 69] [IF: 3,7 (*)]
DOI: 10.1002/jbm.a.30436 SCOPUS: 26844551535.