News

$27-million Medicine by Design investment will fast-track stem cell research

Peter Zandstra at the Canada First Research Excellence Fund announcement last year (Johnny Guatto photo)

David McMillen and his team are hard at work designing a new custom-designed probiotic to help the 233,000 Canadians living with Crohn’s and colitis.

The goal of the project, which is among 20 sharing $27 million in funding from university’s newly created Medicine by Design initiative, is to create a bacterium that can help trigger the renewal of the gut lining in people with these chronic bowel diseases.

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Peter Zandstra named University Professor, U of T’s highest academic rank

Peter Zandstra has been has been appointed to the rank of University Professor, U of T’s highest academic rank. (Photo: Roberta Baker)
Peter Zandstra has been has been appointed to the rank of University Professor, U of T’s highest academic rank. (Photo: Roberta Baker)

Peter Zandstra, professor in the Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering and Canada Research Chair in Stem Cell Bioengineering, has been appointed to the rank of University Professor. This is U of T’s highest academic rank, recognizing unusual scholarly achievement and pre-eminence in a particular field of knowledge. The number of such appointments is limited to two per cent of the University’s tenured faculty.

Zandstra is a pioneer in the field of stem cell bioengineering, an area that applies engineering principles to stem cell biology. His research focuses on understanding how complex communication networks between stem cells and their progeny influence self-renewal and differentiation, and how this information can be applied to the design of novel technologies capable of controlling cell fate. Zandstra’s work has advanced our understanding of stem cell developmental processes and led to the development of cutting-edge technologies for the growth and differentiation of stem cells. Direct applications of his work include tissue and cellular engineering, gene therapy and organ transplantation.

Continue reading at UofT Engineering News.

An engineering road map for scaling up production of stem cell-derived treatments

Yonatan Lipsitz (PhD Candidate, Biomedical Engineering) is the lead author of a new publication that outlines a manufacturing framework for stem cell therapeutics. (Photo: Neil Ta)

Growing artificial human tissues and making automobiles don’t appear to have much in common, but a new paper suggests that some of the same engineering principles may apply.

Yonatan Lipsitz (BioMedE PhD Candidate) is the lead author on the new perspectives article published today in Nature Biotechnology. Along with his co-authors, Professor Peter Zandstra (IBBME) and Nick Timmins of the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM), Lipsitz has laid out a framework for how to develop the large-scale manufacturing processes needed to bring therapies based on stem cells — able to turn into different types of human cells — into the mainstream. At its heart is a principle adapted from the automotive and pharmaceutical industries: quality-by-design.

Continue reading at UofT Engineering News.

PhD student Nika Shakiba recognized with the 2016 Jennifer Dorrington Graduate Research Award

Nika Shakiba is a PhD candidate in Professor Peter Zandstra’s Stem Cell Bioengineering lab (Photo: Roberta Baker / University of Toronto)
Nika Shakiba is a PhD candidate in Professor Peter Zandstra’s Stem Cell Bioengineering lab (Photo: Roberta Baker / University of Toronto)

PhD candidate Nika Shakiba (EngSci 1T0) has been named a recipient of a 2016 Jennifer Dorrington Graduate Research Award. Issued by the University of Toronto Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research (CCBR), the award recognizes graduate-level research excellence and contributions to their field.

As a member of Professor Peter Zandstra’s Stem Cell Bioengineering lab, Shakiba’s research focuses on gaining a better understanding of stem cells. Specifically, she utilizes cell biology and mathematical modelling techniques to investigate the pathways behind their reprogramming to better predict how any given adult cell might turn into stem cells.

Continue reading at UofT Engineering News.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau backs commercialization of stem cell research by U of T and partners

Professor Peter Zandstra, seen here with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U of T President Meric Gertler and Minister of International Trade Chrystia Freeland, is the new executive director of Medicine By Design (all photos by Johnny Guatto)

Regenerative medicine is the way of the future for Canadian health care, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says, and two new initiatives are helping strengthen the commitment of U of T and its partners to stem cell research and manufacturing.

Trudeau announced at the MaRS Discovery District on Jan. 13 that the federal government will give a $20 million grant to the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM) to establish and operate a new Centre for Advanced Therapeutic Cell Technologies.

Continue reading at UofT News.