4 IBBME Faculty and their Co-Inventors Named UofT Inventors of the Year

IBBME’s core and cross faculty were once again named Inventors of the Year at an award ceremony yesterday evening. Among the winners of this prestigious, University-wide honour are Molly Shoichet, Core faculty at IBBME and the Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry, Milos Popovic, IBBME core faculty and Toronto Rehab Chair in Spinal Cord Injury Research at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, Andreas Mandalis, Professor in the Departments of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, and cross-appointed to IBBME, and Axel Guenther, Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, who is also cross-appointed to IBBME.

Professor Molly Shoichet’s nomination stems from three inventions for her work with polymers for drug delivery and regeneration.Our invention related to a hydrogel comprised of hyaluronan and methyl cellulose shows great promise in both cell and drug delivery. This innovative product is being pursued in collaboration with CCRM, IPO, MI and industry partners for a variety of different medical applications. Our goal is to advance research knowledge towards commercial products and thereby make a difference in the lives of people worldwide,” explained Professor Shoichet in a statement.

“I am thrilled to be part of this exceptionally talented group and particularly grateful to the many creative scientists with whom I have the privilege to work – from post-doctoral fellows, graduate students, undergraduates, technicians to my many collaborators and colleagues,” she added.

Milos Popovic is being honoured for neuroprosthetic systems, devices designed to help to restore or replace functions of the human nervous system when it has been damaged. Dr. Popovic’s start up company, Mynd Tec, is working on an advanced electrical stimulator which has been show to help restore voluntary reaching and grasping functions in severely disabled individuals (caused by severe strokes and spinal cord injuries).

Professor Andreas Mandalis and his team set out to create a diagnostic device for the detection and monitoring of tooth decay. The resultant company, Quantum Dental Technologies, Inc., has led to the commercialization of the Canary System.

Associate Professor Axel Guenther and his team – working in conjunction with Assistant Professor Milica Radisic’s lab – have been in the news lately for their development of a three-dimensional tissue printer. Initially developed from your average desktop laserjet printer, this microfluidic device creates a hydrogel sheet that exactly positions cells in a three-dimensional scaffold, and is able to spool these sheets into three dimensional tissue layers. Among other applications, the device is being researched at the Sunnybrook Hospital’s Burn Unit (under Dr. Marc Jeschke) for its potential restorative skin tissue growth for burn victims.

This is not the first time that IBBME faculty have dominated this competition. Last year, four IBBME faculty – Professors Tom Chau, Peter Zandstra, Aaron Wheeler and Eugenia Kumacheva – were similarly honoured with “Inventor of the Year” titles.

“I believe that it is the open spirit of collaboration and information exchange that creates such phenomenal opportunity for the faculty and student members of IBBME’s network,” cited Professor Paul Santerre, IBBME’s Director, on IBBME’s astounding results, “the result could be nothing but increased opportunity leading to accelerated innovation and commercialization.”