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Livia Rocha Dos Santos

Senior Independent Research Fellow

School of Science & Technology

Staff Group(s)


Dr. Lívia Santos is a Senior Independent Research Fellow in Musculoskeletal Biology based at the School of Science and Technology. She leads research in mechanobiology and bone tissue regeneration and contributes to teaching Nutrition and Metabolism in bachelors of Sport Science. She is the Director of Studies of 1 PhD student and supervisor of 3. Dr. Santos is a Marie Curie alumni after a 2-year Intra-European Marie Curie Fellowship at Imperial College London, UK.

Career overview

Dr. Santos joined NTU in 2016 as Independent Research Fellow and became Senior Independent Research Fellow in early 2019. While at NTU she received seedcorn funding to develop a bone-on-a-chip from the Medical Technologies and Advanced Materials Strategic Research Theme and a grant from the School of Science and Technology to help regain "career traction" after a period of leave.

Prior to her current position, Dr Santos worked in world-class research groups, the 3Bs Research Group, University of Minho & European Headquarters for Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, Portugal (2014-2006) and the Stevens Group, Imperial College London (2012-2014). At 3Bs, she developed an immunomodulatory biomaterial to facilitate tendon gliding while reducing the formation of post-operative peritendinous adhesions. She also taught the modules of Tissue Engineering and Biocompatibility Labs (Integrated MSc in Biomedical Engineering, University of Minho). She joined Imperial College London after receiving a highly prestigious Intra-European Marie Curie Fellowship (Marie Curie actions FP7) to investigate bone angiogenesis. In this period she also characterised the genetic cargo of microvesicles shed by bone cells using miRNA PCR arrays. While an active member, the Stevens group received the prizes Research Group of the Year 2014 and Best European Research Group Led by PI Under 40s. Before these positions, Dr Santos received a Post-Doctoral Fellowship by the FCT (Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology) to conduct research at Biosckin - Molecular and Cellular Therapies SA & Faculty of Engineering of Porto (2008-20012). In this period, she developed and tested an injectable bone substitute to fill critical size bone defects and invented an artificial cornea fringe made of reinforced calcium phosphate aiming to restore the vision in patients with corneal blindness. Dr. Santos obtained a PhD in Chemical and Biological Engineering in 2008 from the University of Minho, Portugal. She was supervised by Joana Azeredo, Associate Professor in the MIT-Portugal Program.

Research areas

Dr. Livia Santos is a member of SHAPE.

Current research is being carried out in the following areas:

Bone regeneration and cancer - Exercise is generally considered beneficial to cancer patients by increasing their quality of life and improving survival rates. It is also beneficial to bone regeneration by increasing the blood supply and favouring osteoblast differentiation. However, the underpinning molecular mechanisms remain to be elucidated. Making use of a bioreactor that mimics exercise in vitro and omics approaches we successfully mapped the transcriptome and secretome in mechanically stimulated human and mouse bone cells. This work resulted from internal collaborations with the Department of Biosciences (Dr. Alsi Ugun-Klusek) and the John van Geest Cancer Research Centre (Dr. Clare Coveney and Dr. David Boocock) and the resulting paper is currently submitted.

Mechanobiology - This research topic addresses how biophysical cues modulate the biological behaviour of cells. This is an emerging research field with great potential to help us understand and mitigate age-related diseases like osteoporosis and cancer. Dr Santos has tested the impact of hydrogels  with different Young's modulus in human endothelial cells, developed magnetic biomaterials to improve tendon repair and contributed for the development of a miniaturised cell culture model called bone-on-a-chip. The later resulted from internal collaborations with the Department of Chemistry and Forensic Science (Prof. Carole Perry) and the Department of Engineering (Dr. Yvonne Reinwald).

Current PhD students:

Miss Janelle Tarum (Dos)

Miss Hanna Manley (supervisor)

Miss Rita Civil (supervisor)

Mr Joe Matthew (supervisor)

Opportunities exist to carry out postgraduate research towards a PhD in the areas identified above. Further information may be obtained on the NTU Research Degrees website.

External activity

Dr Santos is regularly invited to peer review papers and grant applications.

Invited talks:

Acellular biomaterials in tissue regeneration, Seminar Series, Orthopaedics, Trauma and Sports Medicine, Medical School, QMC, Nottingham

Biological assessment of magnetically actuated biomaterials, 1st International Symposium for Women Researchers on Advanced Science and Technology, Kyushu Institute for Technology, Fukuoka, Japan.

Sponsors and collaborators


  • DTA/COFUND PhD Studentship (Director of Studies), Nottingham UK.
  • 3 NTU Vice-chancellor PhD Studentships (Supervisor), Nottingham, UK
  • NTU (£35,000). Modelling and emulating 3D multi-tissue interactions by microfluidic chip technology (Principal Investigator), Nottingham, UK
  • NTU (£14,000). New Biomaterials in Tendon Healing (Co-Investigator), Nottingham, UK
  • Marie Curie Actions, FP7 (€209,000). Individual Intra-European Marie Curie Fellowship. Imperial College London, London UK



See all of Livia Santos's publications...

Press expertise

  • Regenerative medicine
  • Exercise and stem/ bone cells
  • Bone ageing

Course(s) I teach on