UW News

October 29, 2015

Nov. 5 bioengineering lecture focuses on ‘Engineering Personalized Medicine’

Molly Shoichet

Molly Shoichet

We have personal trainers and tailored suits. Why don’t we have personalized medicine?

That question — and the prospects for stem-cell-based treatments that reverse disease and repair damage rather than simply addressing symptoms — will be the focus of the University of Washington’s Department of Bioengineering’s 2015 Allan S. Hoffman Lecture on Nov. 5.

Molly S. Shoichet, a University of Toronto chemical engineering and applied chemistry university professor who specializes in tissue engineering at the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, will deliver the lecture entitled “Engineering Personalized Medicine” at 4 p.m. at Kane Hall’s Walker-Ames Room, with a reception to follow.

Shoichet, recipient of a 2015 L’Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science Award for groundbreaking discoveries in the physical sciences, will detail stem-cell-based treatments for tissue repair in the brain and cell transplants to combat vision loss.

Overcoming damage to the brain — and getting drugs to the brain — are challenges following a stroke. Her research team designed a treatment that delivers the sustained and sequential release of two therapeutics to the brain, which results in neural stem cell stimulation and tissue repair.

Shiochet also developed a cell transplantation technique to help restore vision in patients with diseases such as macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa, which are both associated with a loss of photoreceptors. Using retinal stem cell-derived photoreceptors and a hydrogel, the team’s approach outperformed conventional strategies and ultimately resulted in vision repair.

Shoichet, who is the only person to be a fellow of Canada’s three national science and engineering societies, holds the Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Tissue Engineering at the University of Toronto. She has published over 480 papers, patents and abstracts and has founded two spin-off companies.

The Hoffman Lecture honors UW Bioengineering’s Allan Hoffman, now in his 57th year of active research. He joined the UW faculty in 1970, when he began to synthesize polymers and hydrogels with special physical and biomedical properties. He has pioneered the applications of temperature and pH-responsive intelligent polymers and hydrogels in drug delivery and diagnostic assays and continues to be an international “ambassador for biomaterials.”

For more information, contact Shirley Nollette at 206-685-2002 or nolletts@uw.edu.