Molly Shoichet

Molly Shoichet, a University Professor at the University of Toronto. Photo credit: Roberta Baker

Molly Shoichet, a professor in the University of Toronto’s Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, has been named a 2019 Distinguished Woman in Chemistry or Chemical Engineering by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). The recipients were announced on February 11 to mark the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

Shoichet has regularly championed the role of women in science, as well as the promotion of science literacy across Canadian society. She has provided strategic advice to both the federal and provincial governments through her service on Canada’s Science, Technology and Innovation Council, the Ontario Research Innovation Council, and as a founding partner of Research2Reality, an enterprise that showcases the work of the country’s most innovative researchers. In addition to spending four years as U of T’s Senior Advisor to the President on Science & Engineering Engagement, she recently served as Ontario’s first Chief Scientist.

Shoichet is the only person to be elected a fellow of all three of Canada’s National Academies and is also a foreign member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering. In 2017, she was awarded the Killam Prize in Engineering. She is a member of the Order of Ontario and an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Her research work occupies the intersection of engineering, chemistry, and biology, with an emphasis on innovative materials, regenerative medicine, and techniques that could repair damage to nerve tissue. She has explored the use of hydrogels that could store stem cells in their undifferentiated state and allow them to be injected directly to an injured site, such as a broken spinal cord or a retina suffering from macular degeneration. Once there, these cells could treat these problems by forming healthy replacement tissue. She has also designed new polymers for 3D cell culture and is now testing these for drug screening in cancer.