Sowmya Viswanathan

Sowmya Viswanathan | Assistant Professor

BASc (Toronto), PhD (Toronto)

Main Appointments

  • Associate Director, Cell Therapy Program, Princess Margaret Hospital, University Health Network (UHN)

Additional Appointments

  • Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering
  • Clinical Translational and Regulatory Consultant, Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM)
  • Director, Cell Manufacturing Platform, CellCAN
  • Affiliate Scientist, Krembil Research Institute, University Health Network (UHN)

Contact Information

Toronto Western Hospital
Krembil Discovery Tower, 60 Leonard Avenue
Toronto, Ontario M5T 2S8 Canada

+1 416 634-7239
sowmya.viswanathan@uhnresearch.ca (email)


Research Themes

Research Interests

Dr. Viswanathan is investigating the use of anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory strategies, primarily cell-based, to treat inflammation in osteoarthritis (OA). She is interested in how mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCS) impact inflammation in OA.

She has recently initiated a clinical trial as co-principal investigator, a first in Canada (NCT02351011; clinical trials.gov), to examine the immunomodulatory role of autologous MSCs in OA.

Dr. Viswanathan is also evaluating new strategies to improve MSC therapeutic potency including identifying appropriate sub-populations, engineering MSCs, and combining MSCs with carriers. A related strategy involves re-programming resident monocytes/macrophages to a less inflammatory phenotype in the OA joint to ameliorate the microenvironment; this approach could be used as an adjuvant or stand-alone therapy for OA. If proof-of-principle data is supportive, this research project may lead to the development of a new medical device to locally deliver re-programmed macrophages as a new treatment modality.

Dr. Viswanathan’s research program also involves screening for small molecules that can re-program joint-resident macrophages to a less inflammatory phenotype and validating those small molecules in OA explant models and animal models.

Select Publications

A Systematic Study of the Effect of Different Molecular Weights of Hyaluronic Acid on Mesenchymal Stromal Cell-Mediated Immunomodulation. PLoS One. 2016;11(1):e0147868. Gómez-Aristizábal A, Kim KP, Viswanathan S

International Society for Cellular Therapy perspective on immune functional assays for mesenchymal stromal cells as potency release criterion for advanced phase clinical trials. Cytotherapy. 2016 Feb;18(2):151-9. Galipeau J, Krampera M, Barrett J, Dazzi F, Deans RJ, DeBruijn J, Dominici M, Fibbe WE, Gee AP, Gimble JM, Hematti P, Koh MB, LeBlanc K, Martin I, McNiece IK, Mendicino M, Oh S, Ortiz L, Phinney DG, Planat V, Shi Y, Stroncek DF, Viswanathan S, Weiss DJ…

Bringing regenerative medicines to the clinic: the future for regulation and reimbursement. Regen Med. 2015 Oct;10(7):897-911. Bubela T, McCabe C, Archibald P, Atkins H, Bradshaw S, Kefalas P, Mujoomdar M, Packer C, Piret J, Raxworthy M, Soares M, Viswanathan S

Current practices and reform proposals for the regulation of advanced medicinal products in Canada. Regen Med. 2015;10(5):647-63. Viswanathan S, Bubela T

Mesenchymal stromal cells improve cardiac function and left ventricular remodeling in a heart transplantation model. J Heart Lung Transplant. 2015 Nov;34(11):1481-8. Montanari S, Dayan V, Yannarelli G, Billia F, Viswanathan S, Connelly KA, Keating A

Current concepts: the role of mesenchymal stem cells in the management of knee osteoarthritis. Sports Health. 2015 Jan;7(1):38-44. Wolfstadt JI, Cole BJ, Ogilvie-Harris DJ, Viswanathan S, Chahal J

Proceedings: international regulatory considerations on development pathways for cell therapies. Stem Cells Transl Med. 2014 Aug;3(8):879-87. Feigal EG, Tsokas K, Viswanathan S, Zhang J, Priest C, Pearce J, Mount N

Development and characterization of a new inbred transgenic rat strain expressing DsRed monomeric fluorescent protein. Transgenic Res. 2014 Oct;23(5):779-93. Montanari S, Wang XH, Yannarelli G, Dayan V, Berger T, Zocche L, Kobayashi E, Viswanathan S, Keating A

Soliciting strategies for developing cell-based reference materials to advance mesenchymal stromal cell research and clinical translation. Stem Cells Dev. 2014 Jun 1;23(11):1157-67. Viswanathan S, Keating A, Deans R, Hematti P, Prockop D, Stroncek DF, Stacey G, Weiss DJ, Mason C, Rao MS

Donor mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) undergo variable cardiac reprogramming in vivo and predominantly co-express cardiac and stromal determinants after experimental acute myocardial infarction. Stem Cell Rev. 2014 Apr;10(2):304-15. Yannarelli G, Tsoporis JN, Desjardins JF, Wang XH, Pourdjabbar A, Viswanathan S, Parker TG, Keating A, Dudzik J, Chang WC, Kannan AM, Filipek S, Viswanathan S, Li P, Renugopalakrishnan V, Audette GF

Overcoming challenges to initiating cell therapy clinical trials in rapidly developing countries: India as a model. Stem Cells Transl Med. 2013 Aug;2(8):607-13. Viswanathan S, Rao M, Keating A, Srivastava A

Same or not the same? Comparison of adipose tissue-derived versus bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem and stromal cells. Stem Cells Dev. 2012 Sep 20;21(14):2724-52. Strioga M, Viswanathan S, Darinskas A, Slaby O, Michalek J

Natural killer cell lines preferentially kill clonogenic multiple myeloma cells and decrease myeloma engraftment in a bioluminescent xenograft mouse model. Haematologica. 2012 Jul;97(7):1020-8. Swift BE, Williams BA, Kosaka Y, Wang XH, Medin JA, Viswanathan S, Martinez-Lopez J, Keating A

Overcoming the challenges of conducting translational research in cell therapy. Front Med. 2011 Dec;5(4):333-5. Viswanathan S, Keating A

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