(Associate Professor; Docent Pharm. Nanotechnol.; D.Sc. Tech., Chem. Eng.; Lic. Chem. Eng.; Lic. Chem.)


Current positions

Associate professor in pharmaceutical nanotechnology (2017–)

Head of the preclinical drug formulation and analysis group (2016)

Head of the pharmaceutical nanotechnology and chemical microsystems (NAMI) research unit (2014)

Adjunct professor (docent) in pharmaceutical nanotechnology / principal investigator / group leader (2009–)



Dr. Hélder A. Santos is a physical chemist specialized in electrochemistry, biological mimetic models and soft interfaces. In 2003, he obtained his MSc in Chemistry from the Department of Chemistry, University of Porto (Portugal). In 2007, he obtained his DSc in Chem. Eng. from the Laboratory of Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry, Helsinki University of Technology (Finland, now named Aalto University). In 2007, Dr. Santos joined the University of Helsinki, Division of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology, as a Postdoctoral Fellow. In 2009, he was appointed Academy of Finland Postdoctoral Research Fellow.

Currently, he is an Associate Professor (Docent) in Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology, Principal Investigator/Group Leader, Head of the Research Unit Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology and Chemical Microsystems (NAMI) Research Unit, and Head of the Preclinical Drug Formulation and Analysis Group at the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Helsinki.  In 2012, Dr. Santos received the ERC starting grant for 2013-2017 worth of 1.5 M€.

Dr. Santos' research is focused on nanobiomaterials, including nanoporous silica/silicon materials and polymeric-based nanoparticles for controlled drug delivery, diagnostics and therapy. The research interests include the development of nanoparticles/nanomedicines for biomedical and healthcare applications. His current work makes the bridge between engineering, pharmaceutical and medical research. His main research focus is in the use of biodegradable and biocompatible nanoporous silicon nanomaterials, polymers, the application of microfluidics technology for nanoparticle production for simultaneous controlled drug delivery, diagnostic and treatment of cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases, and further translation of these nanotechnologies into the clinic.

He is the author of more than 195 publications (> 3750 citations, h-index = 38) in prestigious high impact, peer-reviewed publications, such as Advanced Materials, ACS Nano, Advanced Functional Materials, Chemistry of Materials, Biomaterials, Small, etc. He is also author of 17 book chapters and more than 190 conference proceedings/abstracts, in a total of more than 366 publications, He has supervised several undergraduate students and more than 43 MSc students. He supervised/co-supervised more than 28 PhD students, mentor of 16 post-docs, and is currently the supervisor of 12 PhD students and mentor of 5 post-doctoral researchers. He has also given more than 100 invited/selected talks in national/international meetings/conferences/lectures.

In 2010, he received the "Talent Prize in Science" awarded by the Portuguese Government (TV-broadcasted for more than 15 million people), in 2013 and 2014 he received the Young Researcher Award 2013 and was distinguished by the exceptional scientific productivity, respectively, by the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Helsinki, and in 2016 he was awarded the Academy of Finland Award for Social Impact. He has several national and international research collaborations in the areas of biomedical nano/micro-technology, controlled drug delivery, nanomedicine and cancer therapy, and innovative therapeutic modalities. He has acted as invited Guest Editor for Current Drug Discovery Technologies, Current Drug Metabolism and Biomatter journals. He is also an active referee for more than 100 international journals and evaluator for 18 international research foundations). Dr. Santos is also an Editorial Board Member for the journals of Drug Delivery Letters, Biomatter, International Journal of Nanotechnology and Nanoscience, Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology, World Journal of Pharmacology, and Journal of Biopharmaceutics and Biotechnology. He is also the Editor of the Mesoporous Biomaterials journal, Academic Editor of BioMed Research International, Journal of Healthcare Engineering, and PLOS ONE. He is also the Editor of the book entitled "Porous Silicon for Biomedical Applications" (published), Woodhead Publishing/Elsevier, 2014.

Dr. Santos’ research career and development portfolio since 2009 totals over 4.3 M€ (European Research Council, Academy of Finland, Tekes, CIMO, Biocentrum Helsinki, Finish Cultural Foundation, University of Helsinki Research Funds, etc.).

Dr. Santos’ has also been the chair and coordinator of the courses Solid State Analysis of Pharmaceutics, Microfluidics for Pharmaceutical Applications, Advance Seminars in Pharmaceutical Technology, Laboratory Experience within a Research Group, and Microfluidics in Pharmaceutical Applications and Analysis.


Scientific expert positions

European Science Foundation College of Expert Reviewers (2016–2019)

Novo Nordisk Foundation Challenge Programme Expert Committee (January–December 2016)

Drug Research Programme scientific committee, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Helsinki, Finland (January 2016–current)

Word Portuguese Network Adviser for Science (December 2014–current)



Mesoporous Biomaterials (LinkedIn Journal's page)



Journal of Healthcare Engineering

Editor and Editorial Advisory Board Member (11)

Advances in Materials Science and Engineering

Drug Delivery Letters

Current Nanoscience


American Journal of Digestive Disease

Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology

World Journal of Pharmacology

Journal of Biopharmaceutics and Biotechnology

AIMS Materials Science

Review Editor: Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology and Materials, section Frontiers in Biomaterials

Member of The National Doctoral Programme in NanoscienceThe National Graduate School in Nanoscience



1.1.2014–31.12.2017 – TEKES, Finland. Dr. Hélder A. Santos (Partner).

1.1.2014–31.12.2016 – Biocentrum Helsinki, University of Helsinki Research Funds. P.I.: Dr. Hélder A. Santos (University of Helsinki).

1.1.2013–31.12.2017 – University of Helsinki Research Funds. P.I.: Dr. Hélder A. Santos (University of Helsinki).

1.1.2013–31.12.2017 – European Research Council (Multistage-multifunctional porous silicon nanovectors for directed Theranostics, #310892). P.I.: Dr. Hélder A. Santos (University of Helsinki).

1.8.2012–31.3.2013 – CIMO (Nanoporous silicon for targeted immunotherapy, #TM-12-8201). P.I.: Dr. Hélder A. Santos (University of Helsinki).

1.9.2011–31.8.2016 – Academy of Finland (Porous silicon nanodelivery systems for enhanced targeted cancer therapy, NANOPSi-CAN-Project #252215). P.I.: Dr. Hélder A. Santos (University of Helsinki).

1.2.2010–31.12.2013 – The National Doctoral Programme in Nanoscience - NGS-NANO (Biofunctionalization of porous silicon nanoparticles for brain cancer therapy). P.I.: Dr. Hélder A. Santos (University of Helsinki).

1.1.2009–31.12.2011 – University of Helsinki Research Funds (Biodistribution and pharmacokinetics of nanoporous silicon based materials, BioNanoPSi-Project #490039). P.I.: Dr. Hélder A. Santos (University of Helsinki).

1.1.2009–1.12.2011 – Academy of Finland (In vitro/in vivo toxicity and bioavailability of mesoporous silica/silicon based materials, VIVOTOXSi-Project #127099). P.I.: Dr. Hélder A. Santos (University of Helsinki).

1.1.2008–31.12.2008 – Academy of Finland (Mesoporous silicon based composite materials as oral drug delivery systems, ComPSi-Project #122314). P.I.: Prof. Jouni Hirvonen (University of Helsinki).

1.1.2008–31.12.2008 – Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH (Germany) (Towards enhanced bioavailability of poorly soluble drugs utilizing PSi, ENBIPSi-Project). P.I.: Prof. Jouni Hirvonen (University of Helsinki).

1.4.2007–31.12.2007 – Academy of Finland (Mesohuokoiset materiaalit oraalisessa lääkeannostelussa, HUMALA-Project #211048). P.I.: Prof. Jouni Hirvonen (University of Helsinki).

1.3.2006–31.3.2007 – Finnish Ministry of Education and Academy of Finland through ESPOM graduate school, P.I.: Prof. Kyösti Kontturi (Helsinki University of Technology).

22.9.2003–28.2.2006 – Training and Mobility Research EU network “Supramolecular Self-Assembly of Interfacial Nanostructures” (SUSANA), RTN, IHP programme of the EU, contract number HPRN-CT-2002-00185, P.I.: Prof. Kyösti Kontturi (Helsinki University of Technology); Network Coord.: Prof. Han J. Vos (Dublin City University).

Other participants of the network were: University of Limerick, University of Amsterdam, University of Dublin, Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne, University of Valencia, University of Nottingham, University of Liverpool, University of Porto, Technical University of Denmark, University of Warwick, and University of Bonn.

Important research reports:

Hélder A. Santos, Scientific report for the chemical Finish company KEMIRA, January 2006, Helsinki, Finland.

Hélder A. Santos, Annual scientific report for the research and training EU commision – SUSANA network, August 2005, European Commission.

Hélder A. Santos, Annual scientific report for the research and training EU commision – SUSANA network, April 2004, European Commission.



Academy of Finland Research Fellow, Division of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology, Faculty of Pharmacy (2011–2016)

Academy of Finland Post-doctoral Research Fellow, Division of Pharmaceutical Technology, Faculty of Pharmacy (2009–2011)

Post-doctoral Researcher, Division of Pharmaceutical Technology, Faculty of Pharmacy (2007–2009)

Doctor of Science in Technology (October 2007), Department of Chemical Technology, Laboratory of Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry, Helsinki University of Technology (2005–2007). Final Grade: cum laude.

Licentiate of Science in Technology (November 2005), Department of Chemical Technology, Laboratory of Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry, Helsinki University of Technology (2003–2005). Final Grade: cum laude.

Graduated in Chemistry (Licentiate Degree; July 2003), Department of Chemistry, Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry and Electrochemistry, University of Porto, Faculty of Sciences (1999–2003). Final Grade: 15 (Good, 0–20 scale).



Harvard University, Experimental Soft Condensed Matter Group, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences/Department of Physics, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA visiting researcher, February–March 2008, Germany (Group leader: Prof. David A. Weitz).

Saarland University, Department of Biopharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Technology, Faculty of Pharmacy, visiting researcher, February–March 2008, Germany (Group leader: Prof. Claus-Michael Lehr).

Univeristy of Porto, Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry and Electrochemistry, Department of Chemistry, EU SUSANA project: General Meeting (through the EU Training and Mobility programme), June 2005, Portugal (Group leader: Prof. Eng. Antonio F. Silva).

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Laboratory of Electrochemical Physics and Analytical, EU SUSANA project: Young Researchers Meeting (through the EU Training and Mobility programme), March 2005, Switzerland (Group leader: Prof. Hubert Girault).

Univeristy of Warwick, Division of Electrochemistry and Interfaces, Department of Chemistry, EU SUSANA project: Scientific Mid-Term Meeting (through the EU Training and Mobility programme , June 2004, England (Group leader: Prof. Patrick Unwin).

Univeristy of Liverpool, Laboratory of Electrochemistry and Nanochemistry, Department of Chemistry, EU SUSANA project: Young Researchers Meeting (through the EU Training and Mobility programme), February 2004, England (Research group leader: Prof. David Schiffrin).

University of Kuopio, Department of Pharmaceutics, visiting researcher, December 2003, Finland (Group leader: Prof. Arto Urtti). 



Analytical Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, Bio-electrochemistry, Nanotechnology, Pharmaceutics, Biomaterials, Porous Silica / Silicon

Biomimetic Systems

Structure of complex interfaces (amphiphiles, peptides, proteins, polymers, clusters, nanoparticles glycosaminoglycans)

Polymers/peptides/glycosaminoglycans/proteins/nanoparticles-lipid/liposome interactions

Ion and drug transfer across model membranes

Chemistry and Physics in Confined Space

Air/liquid and liquid/liquid interfacial systems

Physicochemical processes at surfaces of model membranes

Synthesis and electrochemical characterization of glycosaminoglycans-functionalised nanoparticles

Thermodynamic parameters of glycosaminoglycans binding to drug molecules

Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology and Nanotoxicology

Controlled and targeted drug delivery: nanoporous silica / silicon micro- and nanoparticles for biomedical applications

Analytical analysis (e.g., HPLC, etc), flourescent- and luminescent-based in vitro assays, cell culturing for in vitro tests (Caco-2, RAW 264.7 macrophages, etc), cellular uptake and toxicity assays, etc.

Techniques/Instrumentation of Expertise (among others)

Langmuir–Blodgett, ac impedance/voltammetry, cyclic voltammetry, transmission electron microscopy, Fourier transform infrared, isothermal titration calorimetry, UV-Vis, GC, HPLC, TEM, SEM, SECM, confocal microscopy, flow cytometry, cell culturing, dissolution and permeation methods, ELISA assays, etc. 




Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces , Langmuir, Journal of Physical Chemistry B, Journal of the American Chemical Society, Bioconjugate Chemistry, Chemistry - A European Journal, Journal of Controlled Release, Drug Delivery Letters, European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics, European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, International Journal of Pharmaceutics, Molecular Pharmaceutics, Pharmaceutical Research, Current Drug Discovery Technologies, Journal Biomedical Chromatography, Journal of Chromatography B, Expert Opinion on Drug Delivery, Expert Opinion On Drug Metabolism and Toxicology, Drug Discovery Today, WIREs Nanomedicine & Nanobiotechnology, Journal of Nano Research, Journal of Materials Research, Acta Biomaterialia, Nanotoxicology, Toxicology Research, Journal of Biomedical Nanotechnology, Particle and Fibre Toxicology, Small, Clinica Chimica Acta, Current Medicinal Chemistry, Journal of Nanopharmaceutics and Drug Delivery, Therapeutic Delivery, RSC Advances, Chemical Reviews, Macromolecular Bioscience, Biomaterials Science, Journal of Materials Chemistry B, Dalton Transactions, Chemical Research in Toxicology, Journal of Biomedical Materials Research Part A, Journal of Biomedical Materials Research Part B, Current Drug Delivery, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine, Nitric Oxide: Biology and Chemistry, Biomaterials, Nanomedicine, Drug Development and Industrial Pharmacy, Journal of Tissue Engineering, ACS Nano, Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - General Subjects, Nanoscale Research Letters, Chemical Communications, Biomacromolecules, Current Drug Targets, Advanced Materials, Advanced Functional Materials, Advanced Health Materials, Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews, Journal of Drug Delivery Science and Technology, Chemical Engineering Journal, Biotechnology Advances, Scientific Reports, Enzyme and Microbial Technology, Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology, International Journal of Nanomedicine, Macromolecular Rapid Communications, European Journal of Inorganic Chemistry, PLOS ONE, Journal of Membrane Science, Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, Silicon, Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, Lab on a Chip, Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology, Molecular Therapy, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Nano Today, Chemical Sciences, Pharmaceutical Patent Analyst, Chemical Society Reviews

Porous Semiconductors-Science and Technology (PSST) Conferences - 2014, 10th World Biomaterials Congress (WBC2016)

Springer Science+Business Media, Future Science ebooks, Chandos Publishing, Woodhead Publishing, Elsevier: Micro and Nano Technologies Series, Wiley-VCH (Books)


Evaluator for international research projects (69) from 16 international research foundations/institutions:

The Leverhulme Trust, UK; Research Foundation Flanders (FWO), Belgium; The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), Switzerland; The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), The Netherlands; Slovenian Research Agency, Slovenia; ARC French Foundation for Cancer Research, France; European Research Council (ERC) Starting and consolidator Grants, 2014 and 2015 (European Commission); European Science Foundation; Diabetes UK; Dutch Arthritis Foundation, Netherlands; The Research Institute for Medicines, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Lisbon, Portugal; Dutch Arthritis Foundation, The NerthlandsWellcome Trust, UK; Medical Research Council, UK; Canada Council for the Arts–KillamCÚRAM MedTrain Marie Sklodowska-Curie COFUND Fellowships, Ireland