Events · The PhD voice

A week of conferences – Stem cells and PhD program

Hey all! I’m glad I’m finally back to writing about my PhD, yay! I’m right now on the 1 and a half year mark since the beginning and six months since my thesis work began. I’m back home after a busy week that featured a workshop in Coimbra and the annual conference of my PhD program in Braga, and what better way to recap the week than writing about it?

II Workshop on Stem Cells, Coimbra

This one-day workshop took place at the University Hospital Centre of Coimbra, the city with the oldest university in Portugal, about 200 Kms north of Lisbon. As you might know by now, my PhD topic is a combination of stem cells manufacturing and programming. I feel that I want to improve my knowledge on the biology of stem cells and current clinical applications state, so this was the perfect opportunity. I was pleasantly surprised to learn about clinical trials on the field that involve the University of Coimbra and the Hospital. I was also interested on a talk about stem cells manufacturing in an European company which is quite relevant for me. Several diseases were talked about, like stroke, diabetic ulceras, myocardial infarction and autoimmune diseases.

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10th MIT Portugal Annual Conference

My PhD program is the Bioengineering one from the MIT Portugal. This program involves a collaboration with MIT where we have had classes with some professors from there, either in person or via videoconference. The program also has three other areas: Engineering Design and Advanced Manufacturing, Transportation Systems and Sustainable Energy Systems. The conference is always a good opportunity to be together with colleagues, now that we are all with different projects, know better students from other areas, and interact with faculty, alumni and other invited speakers. The venue for this year was University of Minho in Braga, it was nice to return to this nice city.

Very briefly, the conference was focused on the impact of the 10 years of the program in people, science, society and the future. The speakers were diverse and ranged from current students to faculty members from MIT and Portuguese universities, alumni and staff of companies that either collaborate with universities involved in the program or from startups established within the program ecosystem. Topics such as the challenges of innovation and entrepreneurship, scientific employment, polyurethanes, heart attacks and the need for more collaboration between academia and industry were spoken of.

The opening remarks were made by the President of the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation, Paulo Ferrão (former MIT Portugal director), the current directors, Bruce Tidor and Pedro Arezes, the rector of University of Minho, António Cunha, and the director of the Biological Engineering Centre (and my professor too), Eugénio Ferreira. The concluding remarks featured as well the Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Manuel Heitor. Some topics addressed by them involved the relevance of high quality research and the role of PhDs in the technological changes in companies through the acquired knowledge, among others.

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António Cunha, rector of University of Minho, during the opening session

The conference is also an opportunity to showcase the research work of the students through a poster competition and there is a prize for each area. While the time is too short to check all the posters with attention, it’s interesting to see so many different topics addressed. Check out my poster!

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So yeah, now you know my PhD project at a glance.

The day went by really fast and we had to say goodbye to Braga for a long 5 hour bus ride and to watch and listen to the Portugal vs Poland match on the bus. Fortunately the result was good for our side but always with a lot of suspense. Let’s hope that in the semi-final against Wales Portugal wins in the 90 minute regular time finally!

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What conferences related to your research have you attended lately? Does your program have any annual conference?

Cátia

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