The 3B’s Research Group (Biomaterials, Biodegradables and Biomimetics) was established in 1998 at the University of Minho and supports a multidisciplinary and highly skilled team which works at the interface of biotechnology, biology, biomedical engineering and materials science. Major research areas at our group include, among others, new materials development, drug delivery, tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, nanomedicine, and stem cell isolation and differentiation. The group belongs to the new Portuguese Government Associate Laboratory ICVS/3B´s, the only one of these laboratories totally based in the University of Minho. This a collaboration with the Institute of Health and Life sciences of U. Minho. It also leads the European Institute of Excellence on Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine that has branches in 22 locations in 13 different countries.
The goal of the 3B’s Research Group is to develop novel biomaterials (hydrogels, scaffolds, membranes, nano/microparticles) based on natural polymers for applications in drug delivery and tissue engineering of bone, cartilage and skin. This is accomplished by developing several isolation/purification tools and processing methods, allowing the fabrication of integrated biomaterials. On the other hand, stem cell research is devoted to the differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells from different sources (adipose tissue, bone marrow, amniotic membrane and fluid, umbilical cord blood, Warthon’s Jelly) and origins (human, goat, rat) towards the lineages of interest (bone, cartilage, skin) either using conventional methodologies or combined scaffolds/ biological signals.
Research at 3B’s is supported by multiple grants from European (The Framework Programmes for research and technological development from the European Union) and National (Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology) Funding Agencies, innovation agencies, cross-border programs, as well as by industrial contracts. The 3B’s Research Group has been in the last few years one of the most active groups in Europe on attracting highly competitive large grants for research, educational programs, and supporting infrastructure. This strategy has been positioning the Group as a continuously growing and world-respected center on Biomaterials, Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine research.
The 3B’s Research Group has been built based on an interdisciplinary research approach where collaboration and cooperation are hallmarks of its culture. Collaborative long-term partnerships have been developed with universities in Europe, Asia, and North America that have been providing opportunities for student and postdoctoral exchange programs and joint research projects.
In 2008, the European Institute of Excellence on Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine was formed as a result of the European Network of Excellence (NoE) EXPERTISSUES funded under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) being its Headquarters based on the 3B´s Research Group facilities.
The 3B’s Group is also engaged in finding workable solutions to certain societal problems. Stemmatters is a spin-off of the 3B’s Group developing services and products in the areas of stem cells and materials technology. This start-up company has been recently created and occupies the 3rd floor at the institute building. 3Bs’s multi‐and inter‐disciplinary integrated research environment thus gives the Group a strategic advantage over other groups in finding solutions and in transferring those results for public use and society benefit.