Assistant Professor, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
University of Calgary
3330 Hospital Drive NW
Calgary AB T2N 4N1
My primary research focus is in the area of micro-tissue engineering – that is, tissue engineering on the sub-millimetre scale. Many groups around the world are working on producing various clinically useful cell types from stem and progenitor cells. I believe that the next major challenge will be in assembling these cells into something useful, so they can be delivered to the patient to treat disease, or used in research labs as new model systems to study tissue behaviour.
The injection of single cell suspensions into a patient has proved challenging, as many cells die, or end up in inappropriate locations. Engineered microtissues have many advantages, in that they are still small enough to be introduced through the bore of a needle – thus avoiding the need for major surgery – but the introduced cells come with their own supportive micro-environment, functional connections to their neighbours, and are not subjected to the trauma of dissociation.
We are focusing our research in the areas of treatments for diabetes and macular degeneration, and also basic research using pluripotent stem cells to better understand how tissues form and self-organize during the earliest stages of development. My group also has an emphasis on developing new supporting technologies, and I was named a 2015 University of Calgary PEAK scholar for my AggreWell technology for micro-tissue generation, now an internationally successful commercial product. We also have an interest in the use of 3D printing and other prototyping technologies to develop simulated body parts for medical training applications, and my lab recently made the news for some 3D-printed prosthetic feet we made for Foghorn the rooster.