PEO member named Ontario’s chief scientist

A PEO member and a pioneer in tissue regeneration work has been named Ontario’s first-ever chief scientist.

Molly Shoichet, PhD, LEL, is professor of chemical engineering and applied chemistry at the University of Toronto’s Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering. She was appointed to the chief scientist position November 17, 2017 after a 17-month recruitment by the Ontario Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science.

Shoichet told Engineering Dimensions she is honoured with the appointment. “I am very excited at the opportunity to work across sectors with colleagues in government, academia and industry to make a difference for all of us,” she says. “I look forward to the challenges that lie ahead and am confident that, by working together, we can make a difference.”

She will retain her current teaching and research position at the University of Toronto but anticipates devoting much of her time to the chief scientist role.

The appointment of a limited licence holder to the chief scientist office could address longstanding concerns that professional engineers lack influence in policy development. As chief science officer, Shoichet will work with research communities to champion high-quality science in government and education. The chief scientist is also expected to help the province decide on science-based policy issues, offer advice on future research and innovation projects and assist in development of a best science strategy for the province.

A member of the Order of Ontario and author of nearly 600 papers and abstracts, Shoichet reports to Reza Moridi, minister of research, innovation and science.

“Molly Shoichet is one of the top biomedical scientists in the country with in-depth knowledge of Ontario’s research community,” Moridi said in a statement. “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 is an expert in the study of polymers for drug delivery and tissue regeneration and a world leader in the areas of polymer synthesis, biomaterials design and drug delivery in the nervous system. Her research focuses on strategies to promote tissue repair after traumatic spinal cord injury, stroke and blindness.

The new chief scientist holds the tier one Canada research chair in tissue engineering. She joined the University of Toronto in 1995 and was appointed university professor in 2014, an honour held by less than two per cent of the university’s faculty.

Shoichet has a PEO-issued limited licence in the chemical engineering category, which limits the holder to teaching courses and conducting research in the engineering science and design areas.