Department of Chemistry, University of Toronto
This Molecular World

Speaker Profile:

Molly Shoichet - Making Change: Shaping the Future of Medicine

Molly Shoichet

Imagine going beyond treating the symptoms of disease and instead stopping and reversing disease progression. This is the promise of regenerative medicine. We will explore three stories - in cancer, blindness, and stroke – where chemistry, biology and engineering come together to solve the unanswered questions in biology and medicine.

In cancer, we can biopsy your tissue, but often we cannot grow those cells in the lab. This limits our understanding of your disease and your treatment. By developing materials in which to grow cells in the laboratory, we have a more predictive drug treatment strategy and can figure out how best to treat your disease.

In blindness, the cells in the retina, at the back of the eye, degenerate. By replacing these exact cells, precisely where they were lost, we propose to restore vision. In models of disease, we show how stem cells can be programmed to those cells that are lost in blindness and then transplanted into the back of the eye, thereby restoring some vision.

After stroke, the stem cells in the brain are stimulated, but not sufficiently to achieve repair. Using a drug infused patch (or band-aid) applied directly on the brain, we demonstrate both tissue and functional repair in models of disease.


Professor Molly Shoichet holds the Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Tissue Engineering at the University of Toronto and is Senior Advisor on Science & Engineering Engagement to President Gertler. She has published over 500 papers, patents and abstracts and given over 350 lectures worldwide in the fields of regenerative medicine, tissue engineering and drug delivery. She currently leads a laboratory of 30 and has graduated 162 researchers. She founded three spin-off companies and is actively engaged in translational research.

She is the only person to be a Fellow of Canada’s 3 National Academies of Science, Engineering, Health Sciences. Dr. Shoichet is the L’Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science Laureate, North America for 2015. She holds the Killam Prize in Engineering for 2017, the Order of Ontario, is University Professor, and a Foreign Member of the US National Academy of Engineering. She graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1987) and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in Polymer Science and Engineering (1992).