Livia Santas

Livia Rocha Dos Santos

Independent Research Fellow

School of Science & Technology

Dr Livia Santos’s research aims to build mechanistic understanding at a cellular, tissue and whole human level and link such knowledge with physiological alterations resulting from exercise.
Staff Group(s)


Dr Livia Santos is an Independent Research Fellow in Musculoskeletal Biology in the Musculoskeletal Physiology Research Group and SHAPE Research Centre.  In addition, Dr Santos contributes to teaching within the Department of Sports Science. Her research interests focus on mechanobiology particularly the effect of compression and tensile strains at a cellular and tissue and whole human level. She is investigating the mechanistic link between mechanobiology and exercise.

Career overview

Dr Santos obtained a PhD degree in Chemical and Biological Engineering in 2008 from the University of Minho, Portugal. As a Post-Doc she acquired expertise in the regeneration and/or repair of musculoskeletal tissues.

In 2012 she joined the Stevens’ Group at Imperial College London, UK after receiving an Intra-European Marie Curie Fellowship. At Imperial she initiated research on mechanobiology and discovered that exposing endothelial cells (the building blocks of blood vessels) to an extracellular matrix mimicking bone stiffness led to an increase in protein expression of caveolin-1 and active β-catenin, hallmarks of the angiogenic process, as well as of growth factors implicated in bone regeneration.

In 2014 Dr Santos initiated both teaching and research activities at the University of Minho & Headquarters of the European Institute of Excellence for Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine in Portugal. She investigated the effect of pulsed magnetic actuation in the prevention of peritendinous adhesions, a post-operative complication that constrains tendon gliding and motion range. As part of her teaching activity Dr Santos taught the modules Mechanotransduction and Mechanobiology, Tissue Engineering and Stem Cells and Laboratories of Biocompatibility and Cell Culture.

Research areas

Dr Santos is a member of the Sport, Health and Performance Enhancement (SHAPE) Research Centre, the Musculoskeletal Physiology Research Group and the Marie Curie Alumni Association.

Student supervision:

Mr Tamagno Pesqueira, MSc in Biomedical Engineering, University of Minho, Portugal (2016)
Miss Maya Juenet, MSc in Biomedical Engineering, Imperial College London, UK (2013)

Opportunities to carry out postgraduate research towards an MPhil/PhD exist in the School of Science and Technology and further information may be obtained from the NTU Doctoral School.

External activity

Sponsors and collaborators

Dr Santos's current research activity is supported by NTU through the Independent Fellowship Scheme

Internal Collaborators: Professor Craig Sale, Director of the SHAPE Research Centre, Dr Kirsty Elliot-Sale, Senior Lecturer in Exercise Physiology and Professor Bob Stevens, Professor of SMART Materials and Devices

Previously group member of:

European Life Sciences"Research Group of the Year 2012” (2014)

"Best European Research Group Led by PI Under 40s" (2012)

Dr Santos received funding from the Intra-European Marie Curie Fellowship, £179,700 (2012)


  • In vitro and in vivo assessment of magnetically actuated biomaterials and prospects in tendon healing. Santos, L, Silva MA, Gonçalves AI, Pesqueira T, Rodrigues MT, Reis RL and Gomes ME, Nanomedicine, 2016, 11, 1107–1122
  • Extracellular stiffness modulates the expression of functional proteins and growth factors in endothelial cells. Santos, L, Fuhrmann GR, Juenet M, Horejs C-M, Campagnolo P, Stevens MM, Advanced Healthcare Materials, 2015, 4, 2056–2063
  • Harnessing magnetic-mechano actuation in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. Santos L, Reis RL and Gomes ME, Trends in Biotechnology, 2015, 33, 41-49
  • Extracellular vesicles derived from preosteoblasts influence embryonic stem cell differentiation. Rekha N, Santos L, Awasthi S, von Erlach T, Chow LW, Bertazzo B, Stevens MM, Stem Cells and Development, 2014, 23, 1625-35
  • Degradation studies and biological behaviour of an artificial cornea material. Santos, L, Ferraz MP, Shirosaki Y, Lopes MA, Fernandes MH, Osaka A, Santos JD, Investigative Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences, 2011, 52, 4274-4281

See all of Livia Santos's publications...