João Coelho winner of the 14th Edition of the Santander/NOVA Collaborative Research Award 2021


The big winner of the 14th Edition of the Santander/NOVA Collaborative Research Award 2021 is the project "Intelligent Graphene Dressings for Diabetic Foot Ulcer Monitoring". The multidisciplinary team responsible involves two organic units of Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, being constituted by the researcher João Coelho, from DCM-FCT|NOVA, CENIMAT/I3N and CEMOP|UNINOVA, of NOVA School of Science and Technology | FCT NOVA, in collaboration with the researcher Inês Coelho, from CEDOC, of NOVA Medical School - Faculty of Medical Sciences.

As explained by the researcher João Coelho, "the project aims to launch the necessary technological platforms for the future development of intelligent dressings with wireless communication capacity for a better empowerment of patients and their monitoring by health professionals. 

For her part, Inês Coelho recalls that "diabetes is a systemic disease that requires integrated health care of high complexity and the associated complications, such as diabetic foot ulcer, affect 25% of people with diabetes, representing high costs and considerable pressure on health systems." 

Therefore, adds the researcher, "the presented project's main objective is to develop a flexible platform that allows continuous monitoring of diabetic ulcers in a non-invasive and comfortable way for the person with diabetes, resulting in better care and health outcomes by reducing hospital visits and shorter hospital stays and associated costs." 

The platform to be created will be composed of sensors dedicated to monitoring characteristic aspects of an ulcer such as oxygenation, pH, temperature and humidity levels. In this way, it will be possible to monitor the evolution and/or healing of the ulcer in real time, in order to manage treatment in a more appropriate way, without having to constantly change dressings. 

The sensors will be manufactured in flexible materials such as paper, in a sustainable way, by laser irradiation. This technique results in the production of graphene, an ultra-thin structure based on carbon, which presents essential physical-chemical properties for the production of sensors. This platform will then be inserted into a patch and tested in pre-clinical studies. 

The Award was delivered today, during the Science Day @South, in the Auditorium of the Espírito Santo College of the University of Évora, on the day that the CAMPUS SUL was launched. 

The Santander/NOVA Collaborative Research Award aims at distinguishing Research Projects to be developed by Junior Researchers at NOVA and involving, at least, two of the Organic Units of the University. The Award, amounting to 15,000 euros, successively includes Research Projects in the scope of Social Sciences and Humanities, Life Sciences and Exact Sciences and Engineering. In 2021 it was dedicated to Life Sciences.