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Molly Shoichet: Engineering Change in Medicine

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Imagine going beyond treating the symptoms of disease and instead stopping it and reversing it. This is the promise of regenerative medicine.

In her Perimeter Institute public lecture, Prof. Molly Shoichet will tell three compelling stories that are relevant to cancer, blindness and stroke. In each story, the underlying innovation in chemistry, engineering, and biology will be highlighted with the opportunities that lay ahead. 

To make it personal, Shoichet’s lab has figured out how to grow cells in an environment that mimics that of the native environment. Now she has the opportunity to grow a patient’s cancer cells in the lab and figure out which drugs will be most effective for that individual. 

In blindness, the cells at the back of the eye often die. We can slow the progression of disease but we cannot stop it because there is no way to replace those cells. With a newly engineered biomaterial, Shoichet’s lab can now transplant cells to the back of the eye and achieve some functional repair. 

The holy grail of regenerative medicine is stimulation of the stem cells resident in us. The challenge is to figure out how to stimulate those cells to promote repair. Using a drug-infused “band-aid” applied directly on the brain, Shoichet’s team achieved tissue repair. 

These three stories underline the opportunity of collaborative, multi-disciplinary research. It is exciting to think what we will discover as this research continues to unfold.