Have you met...Maria Pereira?

Maria Pereira is a scientist who invented an adhesive material to repair hearts. With an MBA and a pharmacy diploma, Maria was on the Forbes list of the 30 under 30

Maria Pereira in Lisbon, Portugal 

Maria Pereira is a pharmacist with a PhD in Bioengineering. During her PhD, she developed a technology that allows heart tissue repair in babies. The project was developed at MIT - Harvard Medical School and is now being explored by Gecko, where she still works. Maria has recently completed her MBA.

Maria, which were the skills you would better appreciate in young scientists?
Above all, resilience. If something doesn’t work at first it doesn’t mean it won’t work ever, you need to keep trying. Second, curiosity. Don’t be afraid to challenge science and information. And finally, teamwork. You need to know how to integrate other people’s work and skills with your own.

If you hadn’t started at Gecko what would you be doing? And if you weren’t a scientist what would you be?
I always had the idea of working at a pharmaceutical company or start-up, so probably I would be working at one of these two. But if I wasn’t a scientist…well science was always present, but I remember when I was a kid, I wanted to be a policewoman! Because I thought as a kid that if I was the police than no one could police me (laughs).

In your opinion, what is going to be the greatest breakthrough in science in the next 20 years?
The incorporation of digital on biology. Right now, science is too slow. Product development needs to get faster, and I believe that using data analysis that can be achieved.

Right now, you are Chief Innovation Officer at Gecko, are you interested in being the CEO of an early company in the future?
Right now, at Gecko I evaluate technologies for their readiness-to-market, possible business model, how it can be commercialized, and so on. Taking the MBA certainly has helped me learn more about all the business part of a technology and how to negotiate and I am enjoying it very much. So, who knows what might happen in the future?

The CEO of Gecko, Christophe Bancel in one interview for the Time said, “Maria not only get things done, but she also makes things happen”. In a self-reflection, why would you think he said that?
Maybe because of resilience. I would say that normally ideas won’t work at first, usually, technologies need to be optimized to work. When something seems not to be working at first, I don’t give up easily and usually keep on trying different solutions until I have proof it won’t work or until it does work.

Maria, on a very bad day what is your getaway strategy?
Go out, have a drink and a great conversation with friends.

Maria, do you expect to return for a professional life in Portugal?
I don’t know but it would depend on the opportunity. The world is too small already.  If we restrain to a specific location, it gets smaller.

Maria is an example that nothing is unachievable. Curious about career pathways such as Maria's? Let us know!

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