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Regenerative Medicine: Fantasy or Reality?

Dr. Molly S. Shoichet
University of Toronto

ABSTRACT: Regenerative Medicine promises to change the way medicine is delivered.  Instead of treating a symptom, regenerative medicine aims to overcome a disease or disorder. While prosthetics already overcome lost function in some areas, they do not promote healing.  In regenerative medicine the goal is to promote healing without causing further injury.  The promise of regenerative medicine has been realized for skin and cartilage where there are already products on the market.  My laboratory is focused on research in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) where regeneration is more complex.  I will describe two strategies to promote repair, one based on endogenous stem cell stimulation and the other based on stem cell transplantation.  These strategies will be described in the context of spinal cord injury, stroke and blindness.

THE SPEAKER: Dr. Molly Shoichet is an expert in the study of polymers that promote healing in the body.  She holds the Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Tissue Engineering and is Professor at the University of Toronto.   She has published close to 400 papers, patents and abstracts and has given over 250 lectures worldwide. Dr. Shoichet is the recipient of such prestigious distinctions as the Canada Council for the Arts’ Killam Research Fellowship, NSERC’s Steacie Fellowship, CIfAR’s Young Explorer’s Award (to the top 20 scientists under 40 in Canada), the CSChE’s Syncrude Innovation Award, Canada’s Top 40 under 40th and the Royal Society of Canada’s Rutherford Memorial Award. In 2008, she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the Canadian Academy of Sciences—the highest distinction awarded to a Canadian scientist. She received her S.B. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Chemistry (1987) and her Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in Polymer Science and Engineering (1992).   She currently leads a laboratory of 25 researchers and has founded two spin-off companies from research in her laboratory.

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