Yesterday, MIT Technology Review revealed its annual list of Innovators Under 35. For over a decade, the global media company has recognized a list of exceptionally talented technologists whose work has great potential to transform the world. For her work in the fields of biotechnology and medicine, Maria José Pereira, an MIT Portugal Program alumna, has been recognized as an inventor on the list.
As an MIT Portugal Program PhD candidate, Pereira contributed to the development of a bio-inspired adhesive that could rapidly attach biodegradable patches inside a beating heart, in the exact place where congenital holes in the heart — such as ventricular heart defects present on 6 out of 1,000 births — occur. The degradable patches remained attached even at increased heart rate and blood pressure. Unlike current surgical adhesives, this new adhesive maintains very strong sticking power in the presence of blood, and it doesn’t need to be replaced as the child grows.
At the beginning of this year, Pereira was a lead author on the report of this discovery in Science Translational Medicine. Along with other related platforms, the adhesive technology has been licensed to a startup company, Gecko Biomedical, based in Paris, where Maria José Pereira is currently head of adhesive technologies. The company has raised 8 million euros in their recently-announced Series A financing round and expects to bring the adhesive to the market within two to three years.
“I am honored to be a part of the innovators under 35 list together with distinguished peers. This recognition emphasizes the innovative character of the adhesive technology platform and its potential to change how minimally invasive surgeries are performed,” says Pereira.
This year’s honorees are featured online at technologyreview.com, and in the September/October print magazine, which hits newsstands worldwide on September 2. They will appear in person at the upcoming EmTech MIT conference from September 23-25 in Cambridge, Mass.