Molly Shoichet named Ontario’s first Chief Scientist

Molly Shoichet

University Professor Molly Shoichet, a world-leading researcher in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, has been appointed the first Chief Scientist of Ontario. (Photo: Neil Ta).

November 17, 2017 | By Tyler Irving

University Professor Molly Shoichet has been appointed Ontario’s Chief Scientist.

“[Shoichet] is one of the top biomedical scientists in the country, with in-depth knowledge of Ontario’s research community,” said Reza Moridi, Ontario’s Minister of Research, Innovation and Science. “As Chief Scientist, she will help us continue a proud tradition of science and research excellence through evidence-based decision making and will open the world to the incredible innovative talent and technologies Ontario has to offer.”

Shoichet, a professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry and the Institute for Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering, is the first person to hold the new position. Her responsibilities will include working with research hospitals, universities and research institutes to champion high quality science in government and education, help the government make decisions on science-based policy issues and advise the government on how to support future research and innovation projects.

She will also lay the groundwork for the next generation of research and innovation jobs by leading the development of the best science strategy for the province.

Shoichet holds the Canada Research Chair in Tissue Engineering and is a leading researcher in stem cell transplantation and regenerative medicine. Her lab group is known for its use of materials called hydrogels that surround and protect stem cells when they are injected in the body. These hydrogels help stem cells survive and integrate into tissues, including nervous tissue damaged by stroke, macular degeneration or other diseases.

She has published more than 500 papers, patents and abstracts, and given more than 350 lectures worldwide in regenerative medicine, tissue engineering and drug delivery. She has won numerous awards and scholarships, including the 2017 Killam Prize in Engineering, the 2015 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award for North America and the 2013 Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. She is the only person to be a Fellow of Canada’s three National Academies, and is both a Foreign Member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Since 2014, Shoichet has served as U of T President Meric Gertler’s senior advisor on science and engineering engagement. She is also the co-founder of Research 2 Reality, which uses digital media to communicate cutting-edge research performed in Canada and spark nationwide awareness. In 2015, she received the Fleming Medal and Citation from the Royal Canadian Institute in recognition of her outstanding contributions to science communication.

“Professor Shoichet is internationally renowned for her pioneering research, and for her leadership in engaging citizens in engineering, science and innovation,” said Cristina Amon, Dean of U of T Engineering and Provostial Advisor on Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). “On behalf of the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, I congratulate her on richly deserved appointment.”

Shoichet is a longstanding supporter of the Faculty’s pioneering outreach programs. In 2015, she was the keynote speaker at the Young Women in Engineering Symposium (YWIES), which helps high-school students understand the positive difference they can make as engineers. Each year, U of T Engineering engages more than 10,000 pre-university students through programs such as DEEP Summer AcademyENGage and Go North, igniting their curiosity about the vast potential of STEM.