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Professor Molly Shoichet (ChemE, IBBME)

On February 6, Professor Molly Shoichet (ChemE, IBBME) will be awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, an award that marks the Queen’s 60th year of reign.

“It’s a huge honour,” said Professor Shoichet. “You realize the importance of that honour when you look around at the other recipients.”

Her nomination for the Queen’s honour originates with her induction to both the Royal Society of Canada and the Order of Ontario in 2011, for her contributions to the scientific community. Professor Shoichet, a world-renowned researcher in the field of regenerative medicine, also holds a Canada Research Chair (Tier I) in Tissue Engineering.

“Molly is very deserving of this recognition,” said Professor Grant Allen, Chair of ChemE. “She is truly a pioneer in working across disciplines in applying advanced chemical and biochemical sciences and engineering to the field of regenerative medicine.”

Professor Shoichet and her students focus on neural engineering research, on ways to heal traumas to the brain or spinal cord through stimulating and transplanting stem cells. “What we bring to the area is a biomaterials approach, where innovative materials enable stem-cell survival and integration,” said Professor Shoichet.

During stem-cell transplants, for instance, usually over 99 per cent of transplanted cells never manage to integrate, resulting in cell death. Shoichet and her researchers strive to incorporate biomaterials into their transplantation strategies to promote survival, while breaking down barriers to cell integration.

The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee honour comes on the heels of a number of high-profile recognitions for Shoichet, who was recently inducted as a Fellow into the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. This honour distinguishes her as the first to hold fellowships in the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, the Canadian Academy of Engineering (2012) and the Royal Society of Canada’s Academy of Science (2008).

“Molly Shoichet has made substantial contributions to the research community and it is great to see this recognized with such a significant honour,” stated Paul Santerre, Director of IBBME, where Shoichet also holds the position of Associate Director, Research.

Professor Shoichet said of this rare distinction, “I have been privileged to have great mentors and collaborators, and fantastic researchers in my laboratory.”

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