Luminary Bruno Sarmento, PhD
LUMINARY BRUNO SARMENTO, PHD
Bruno Sarmento is Principal Investigator at INEB/i3S, Institute of Biomedical Engineering/Institute for Investigation and Innovation in Health, University of Porto, and Assistant Professor at IUCS, Instituto Universitário de Ciências da Saúde, Portugal. He graduated in Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Porto (UP) in 2002 and completed a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology at UP in 2007, in collaboration with Queen’s University (CA), University of Copenhagen (DK) and University of Santiago de Compostela (ES). From 2007 to 2012 he held a Post-Doc position at UP, in collaboration with the University of Copenhagen. In 2008 he was appointed Assistant Professor at IUCS. He also co-founded Inovapotek in 2008 and is a member of its advisory board. In 2012 he became Associated Researcher at INEB, were established an independent team. He was appointed as Assistant Researcher at INEB/i3S in 2016.
He is Visiting Professor of the Post-Graduate School, UniOeste (BR) and Visiting Research Professor at Queen’s University, Belfast (UK). So far, he has supervised/co-supervised 12 Post-Docs (6 completed), 36 Ph.D. students (22 completed) and 33 MSc students (30 completed), and 11 researcher assistants. He attracted direct competitive funding worth more than 6 M€, at national and international levels. His current research is focused on the development of functionalized nanomedicines and their application in the pharmaceutical and biomedical fields. In particular, nanoformulations of biopharmaceutical drugs with interest in diabetes, cancer, and infectious diseases. He has also specialized in mucosal tissue engineering models to validate functionalized nanomedicines and to perform in vitro/in vivo correlation.
He published more than 280 papers in international peer-reviewed (ISI) journals, most in top journals (Q1 in Pharmaceutical Sciences; Q1 in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology; total citations in Scopus 7918; H-index 43 and in GoogleScholar 9620; H-index 47), 45 book chapters and more than 200 proceedings. He edited 5 books, participated in more than 50 invited/selected talks in national and international meetings and was awarded several distinctions. He is an editor of the European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of 11 international journals, including the prestigious Journal of Controlled Release and Expert Opinion on Drug Delivery. Bruno Sarmento is the Chair of the Nanomedicine and Nanoscale Drug Delivery Focus Group of the Controlled Release Society.
He has acted as referee for top-ranked journals in his area of expertise, and for international funding agencies: FNRS (BE), Inserm (FR), CNCS (RO), FCT (PT), Foncyt (ARG), CNPq (BR) and European Commission. In addition to being a partner in several research projects, he was the PI of competitively funded projects (FCT, Gilead, and CESPU), PI of different bilateral collaborative projects between Portugal (FCT) and foreigner funding agencies as well as a partner of several European projects funded by European Commission.
- What sparked your interest in science in general and drug delivery in particular?
My interest in science was raised during my undergrad studies, at the University of Porto. I was accepted at the Faculty of Pharmacy in 1996, and two years later, during my third academic year, I volunteer myself for the undergrad research union. At that time, we were able to select a few labs to be integrated and help grad students on their work. Far from me have a solid idea of what a Ph.D. could be! But the idea of playing around the lab, be independent and propose experiments, fascinated me! I started in the Biochemistry Department, but a few months later I received an invitation by a Professor from the Pharmaceutical Technology Department to join his lab, a volunteer. I immediately accept, and a few years after, he became my Ph.D. advisor. The second half of my undergrad studies for the Pharmacy degree I was enrolled and pleased to participate in small projects related to formulation, and drug delivery strategies, from simple tablets to more complex microstructures
- Share a turning point or defining moment you experienced in your work as a scientist.
After the conclusion of my undergrad studies, the immediate future was still unclear to me. I had the chance to work in a community pharmacy, then, I had a very intense and rewarded experience in the area of the pharmacy associations and union. In the meanwhile, I was able to keep some research activities at the University, spending the weekends on helping in research projects. I did a few applications for Ph.D. scholarships, but unfortunately, they were not accepted. Still, I was enjoying my professional life, with multiple activities, but I felt I need to follow my way. On Christmas eve of December 2003 I made the turning point decision on my professional and personal life: in a few days, I fired myself, accepted a vacancy as a research technician at Queen’s University in Canada and booked a one-way flight ticket to Toronto! On the day of my trip in the first week of January, I received a letter (not e-mail, still, at that time), stating I was granted with a Ph.D. scholarship! I felt that my determination to pursue a dream had been awarded by Someone!
The decision of starting a Ph.D. abroad, without hesitation, completely changed my way of looking into Science. The first steps as a scientist started there, and where fundamental to the career I was able to congregate up to now, first as a researcher, then as planner and now as a group leader and manager.
- Tell us about the exciting ways in which your particular field is progressing.
Me and my group have been contributing to the application of nanoparticles in the biomedical field. We have a particular interest in diabetes, cancer and infectious diseases, where the potential of nanomedicines may elicit more cutting-edge achievements. I witnessed the release of the first (bare) and second (stealth) generation of nanomedicines, as a student, and have been following the third (functional) generation. More recently, high-tech nanomedicines are associated with complex, but intelligent devices, to establish multistage, controllable platforms in the drug delivery field. The precision medicine is not only obtained using particularities of individual patients or groups of patients but also due to the tailoring ability of drug payload release. It is absolutely amazing the rate of new technologies coming out from research labs every day, and read fantastic papers describing the way scientists take advantage of nanomedicines. Scientific knowledge is quickly progressing, indeed, but the commercialization of nano-based technologies is not following the dynamism of creativity.
- What is the best piece of professional advice you have received and from whom?
Not from any particular person, but from several senior researchers and professors that crossed through my path. First, collaborate with people that can bring additional value to my work, aiming excellency. Then, collaborate with people to whom I can add value, and let them access to similar opportunities that I had.
All of the science and collaboration attitudes, with enjoyable, happiness and unselfish reward.
- Would you change anything about your career path if you could start over?
I believe we all could change something. Minor decisions we made on the selection of the scientific direction of our research, possible combinations of new data published in more than one article in one single manuscript, things like that. But, overall, I am happy and proud of the course of my career. I believe I made my structural decisions at the right time and had the support of the right persons on those moments. I am being very lucky, as well, on the group of people that have been working with me, at the group, and on my family, that has been the best of my support.
- What advice would you give to someone who is starting their scientific career?
Think different! And not necessary outside the box; think differently also to increase the size of the box.
- What do you enjoy doing outside of the lab? What are your hobbies/interests?
Due to the interactive nature of my job, I am lucky to have the chance to travel a lot, which is one of the best ways to be educated. I had the chance to cross the world (I am one of those that loves fly!), and had the opportunity to witness the greatness and the beauty that our planet offers to us, and the man turned, almost always for the better!
But nothing like home! I love feeling my home haven, built by my wife and children. More and more I enjoy the pleasure of raising my kids and follow their conquests and their affection.
I like to cook, read, and enjoy red wine. Ideally, together!
One of my greatest pleasures is fishing in the rivers of the mountains of the North of Portugal. I love to raid the desert tracks and wild rivers in search of trouts, stopping to enjoy the wonderful local cuisine and breathtaking landscapes.