Institute of Genetic Medicine

Staff Profile

Dr Ricardo Martins Gouveia

New Harvest Research Fellow


Personal biography

I concluded my B.Sc. degree in Biology (hons.) in the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon, Portugal, in 2004.

From 2005 to 2009, I was a Ph.D. Fellow studying Biochemistry in the Instituto de Tecnologia Química e Biológica (ITQB - NOVA), Portugal, investigating the role of cell adhesion molecules – and particularly of L1-CAM – on neuronal and stem cell differentiation and function.

From 2012 to 2014, I joined the University of Reading, UK, as a Post-doctoral Research Associate, working with Dr Che Connon and Professor Ian Hamley to develop new smart materials for tissue engineering and templating. This BBSRC- and EPSRC-funded research was particularly focused in creating better corneal bio-prosthetic substitutes.

In 2014, I moved with the Connon Group to its newly-established lab in the Institute of Genetic Medicine, Newcastle University, UK. I focused my research on the influence of matrix biomechanics in stem cell behaviour and corneal homeostasis, a project supported by the Medical Research Council (MRC-UK), and whose main results have recently been published in Nature Communications.

Recently (December 2019), I was awarded with the first New Harvest Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, an opportunity that will allow applying my current expertise in tissue bio-fabrication to the field of Cellular Agriculture i.e., for developing structured muscle tissues in vitro.

Personal webpage (with links)



My research is mainly focused on the development of new materials with applications in Cell Biology and Tissue Engineering.

In particular, I am interested in creating smart culture templates that provide human stem/progenitor cells a suitable environment to attach, grow, and recapitulate tissue-specific differentiation and morphogenesis events in vitro.

The ultimate goal of my work is to find new and better strategies to create artificial live tissues that are, for all practical purposes, indistinguishable from their natural counterparts. For that I use bottom-up approaches, where cells are instructed to re-create native-like tissues by finely controlling their responses to their surrounding mechanical, topographical, and chemical environment.

Despite being mostly applied research, my interest also dwells in exploring the fundamental basis of cell-cell and cell-substrate interactions, as well as the use of small molecule supplements to regulate cell phenotype.

This cross-talk between applied and fundamental research provides a valuable feedback, simultaneously creating new challenges and original solutions.

Research highlights
  • Understanding the effects of mechanotransduction and regulatory molecular mechanisms underlying the response of human epithelial stem cells to substrate compliance.
  • Production of native-like, scaffold-free corneal and skin tissues using smart tissue culture templates.  These self-releasable tissues are solely comprised of human adult stromal stem cells and their own matrix.
  • Uncovering the role of all-trans Retinoic Acid in human corneal stroma biology in health and disease.


Module CodeModule TitleRole
MMB8022Stem Cells & Regenerative MedicineLecturer