#2020Shortlist

Nuria Oliva-Jorge

IMPERIAL COLLEGE LONDON

#Engineering   –  🏵️ Shortlist 2020 #FWISAward

“Using smart biomaterials to reverse the effects of ageing”

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Dr Oliva-Jorge is carrying out pioneering research into the specifics of biomaterial interactions with the human body. Biomaterials have been used within medicine for decades, however, during her PhD Dr Oliva-Jorge focused on the development of tissue-based therapies using biodegradable adhesives.

The innovative selection of ‘hydrogels’ she developed has been received incredibly well by the clinical community, with this hydrogel platform facilitating collaboration with a number of medical companies.

The overall aim of her current proposal is to investigate the antiaging epigenetic effects of biomaterials, in particular adhesive hydrogels, on a skin model. Dr Oliva-Jorge’s research combines medicine with biology and engineering, in order to look at how specific materials drive changes in cell epigenetics. As she further explains, “cells can turn genes on or off in response to the environment (e.g. drugs, stress, toxins, etc), known as epigenetics”, and so the varying surface characteristics that biomaterials possess could hold the potential to ‘flick these switches’.

Beneficial manipulations include reducing inflammation, fighting disease and reversing the effects of cell ageing. This research is groundbreaking as it could result in tailored combinations of drugs and biomaterials in order to forge a whole host of superior medical treatment plans for life-threatening diseases.

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“It is the responsibility of those of us involved in today’s biomedical research enterprise to translate the remarkable scientific innovations we are witnessing into health gains for the nation.”

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Elias Zerhouni, 15th Director at the National Institutes of Health, USA

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