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PhD candidate Miles Montgomery discusses his research with the Honourable Ed Holder (right), the Honourable Peter Van Loan and Professor Milica Radisic (rear) during a tour of U of T's Institute for Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering (Photo: John Guatto).

Cancer; climate change; aging infrastructure; heart disease: these 50 letters can cost billions of dollars and countless lives.

On August 14, four U of T engineering students received Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships – prestigious awards from the Government of Canada – to enable pioneering research in these areas:

  • Miles Montgomery (IBBME PhD 1T6) for his work in heart disease and regenerative medicine;
  • Cameron Ritchie (CivE PhD 1T6) for developing novel structural designs;
  • Shrey Sindhwani (IBBME PhD 1T7) for breakthroughs in nanotechnology and cancer detection; and,
  • Lorraine Sugar (CivE PhD 1T0) for her contributions to city-based climate action.

The awards were announced at an event at the University of Toronto, where 34 doctoral students and post-doctoral fellows from U of T garnered Vanier scholarships or Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships − the most of any institution in the country.

Biomedical engineering student Miles Montgomery, who hopes his work “will save people’s lives 20 years from now,” showcased his research on live, beating heart tissue at the announcement.

“Two hundred families are going to lose someone they love today – and the cost of heart failure to the health system will be an estimated $21 billion,” he said. “That’s the reason I come into the lab every morning ready to work.”

Before disclosing this year’s winners, the Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology) joined the Honourable Peter Van Loan (U of T alumnus and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons) to tour the cardiac tissue engineering lab led by Professor Milica Radisic (IBBME, ChemE). The lab is where Montgomery aims to overcome the challenges associated with creating an injectable patch of living, human tissue into patients with damaged hearts.

The Vanier Canada Graduate scholarships and Banting Fellowships were launched by the Government of Canada in 2008 and 2010 respectively to attract and retain world-class doctoral and post-doctoral talent.

“On behalf of the Faculty, I offer my warmest congratulations to Miles Montgomery, Cameron Ritchie, Shrey Sindhwani and Lorraine Sugar on this prestigious honour,” said Dean Cristina Amon. “With promising research in regenerative medicine, infrastructure, nanotechnology and climate change, these bright young researchers are a testament to the ambitious and innovative minds our engineering graduate programs attract.”

Considered the most prestigious awards of their kind, this year they represented a $34.7 million investment in research across the health sciences, natural sciences and engineering, social sciences and humanities.

“I’m proud that more than one in 10 of these awards has gone to the University of Toronto,” said Professor Locke Rowe, the University’s dean of graduate studies, who noted that U of T has received approximately 150 over the last five years. “These are core assets to the University and core assets to Canada.” View the full list of University of Toronto recipients.

View a photo gallery of the event.

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