IBBME and Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry Professor Molly Shoichet Reaches Diamond Milestones

Newly awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, Shoichet is only known person to have received Fellowships in three prestigious Academic Societies

During a ceremony at Roy Thomson Hall on February 6, 2013, Molly Shoichet , Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry and at the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering (IBBME), will be awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, an award that marks the Queen’s 60 th year of reign.

“Molly is very deserving of this recognition,” stated Professor Grant Allen , Chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry. “She is truly a pioneer in working across disciplines in applying advanced chemical and biochemical sciences and engineering to the field of regenerative medicine.”

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

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

Shoichet and her students focus on neural engineering research, on ways to heal traumas to the brain or spinal cord. “What we’re trying to do is promote repair in the brain and spinal cord by either stimulating stem cells that exist [in the body] or transplanting stem cells. And what we bring to the area is a biomaterials approach where innovative materials enable stem cell survival and integration,” Shoichet explains of her multidisciplinary research.

During stem cell transplants, for instance, usually over 99 percent 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 only known person 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 Professor Paul Santerre , Director of IBBME, where Shoichet also holds the position of Associate Director, Research.

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