João Conde, Nuria Oliva and Natalie Artzi
João is a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at Queen Mary University of London, where he has been awarded a Marie Curie Fellowship.
Originally from Lisbon in Portugal, João has always been creative and curious about the small details of the world we live in, especially nature, which has fascinated him since an early age. In fact, he still remembers the first time he ever viewed samples under the microscope at school, and recalls how much he enjoyed drawing these in great detail in his lab book.
Now, as a research scientist working in nanotechnology, João is able to create and image all sorts of materials at nanoscale (a nanometre is one billionth of a metre) using some of the most advanced techniques and methods. His main goal is to create new materials that can be used to detect and treat cancer, and believes that there is an astonishing opportunity for nanotechnology to be used in cancer treatment. As cancer is still one of the world’s most deadly diseases, the importance of novel and smart platforms for cancer diagnostics and therapy is huge.
Outside the lab, João loves to paint. Not having any knowledge or training in the arts, he has been led to painting by his own experiences; although science in itself is highly creative, painting serves to find new possibilities for his work.
Nuria is currently an NIH Ruth L Kirschstein Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard Medical School. She earned her PhD in medical engineering and medical physics from the Harvard–MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. Her PhD work focused on the development and optimisation of the novel adhesive hydrogel shown in her image. She is a trained materials scientist and has worked extensively on developing and optimising techniques for hydrogel fluorescence imaging.
The particular platform shown in her image has proven to be a powerful and critical tool for overcoming the hurdles of chemotherapy, acting as a local depot for the delivery of various drugs and nanotechnology agents for cancer treatment.
Natalie was born in Israel and studied chemical engineering and materials science at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. She has always been passionate about medicine and her dream is to be able to advance human health. Natalie moved to Boston for postdoctoral study and trained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the field of biomedical engineering, studying tissue–biomaterial interactions. From this, Natalie learned how to design biomaterials that can be implanted in patients to treat a range of diseases based on need, by releasing drugs and regenerative molecules. Her work focuses on treating cancer, regenerating tissues (including cartilage and bone) and improving healing in compromised tissues