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Molly S. Shoichet

#iAmBiomed because together we can make a difference.
Molly's Biography

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 325 lectures worldwide. She currently leads a laboratory of 30 and has graduated 162 researchers. She founded two 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 Order of Ontario and the QEII Diamond Jubilee Award. Dr. Shoichet is University Professor, a distinction held by less than 2% of the faculty, 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).

University Professor at the University of Toronto – I lead a lab of 30 researchers and together with our collaborators we try to solve big problems in biology for ultimate application in medicine. Specifically, we invent new materials that either specifically kill cancer cells (to ultimately treat diseases like breast or brain cancer) or specifically stimulate stem cells to promote tissue and functional repair (to ultimately treat diseases like stroke, blindness and spinal cord injury).

I love learning and love that I can do this every day by working with super smart students and post-doctoral fellows to try to answer questions and solve problems that no one has been able to answer before. It is wonderful to bring an idea to fruition, with the ultimate goal of making a difference in people’s lives.

My degrees in science are the cornerstones of my career. I build on this fundamental knowledge every day.

It’s fascinating to think of the diversity of problems that we can solve together and the opportunities to advance knowledge.

Our research at the intersection of engineering, biology, chemistry and medicine is fascinating. It is remarkable to realize that a simple hydrogel can influence the survival of cells once they are transplanted, and that this simple, yet critical effect, can result in some vision restoration and some brain functional repair.

When I made my first polymer, I was inspired to learn more. When I graduated with my PhD in Polymer Science & Engineering, I wanted to combine my passion with polymers with that in medicine and got my first job in industry in this field. I found myself in the emerging field of regenerative medicine and was inspired to make a difference. When I looked for a job in Toronto, I was excited by the research in Chemical Engineering and the opportunities for collaboration in medicine. This led me to the University of Toronto where I have been able to pursue new ideas, forge great collaborations, advance knowledge, patent our inventions and work with industry to translate our ideas to practical application.

In order to solve the big problems that we face in medicine, we need to engage our most creative researchers. In order to make a difference, we need to look at problems in a new way. We need to harness the full community – women and men – in order to realize change. I co-Founded Research2Reality (a national social media campaign) to engage the public in research, to showcase how today’s research is impacting tomorrow’s reality in all fields of research – energy, environment, health, society.

The most important advice is to stay in the game – pursue your dreams – make a difference. Nothing in life just happens. Find excellent mentors who can help you achieve success.

Through outreach and professional development activities, research, partnerships, thought leadership and online initiatives, we work with industry and academia to educate on the value of diversity for innovation, to inspire women to thrive and to celebrate the contributions of women in science and engineering.
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