Alison P. McGuigan

Alison McGuiganProfessor
MEng. (Oxford), PhD (Toronto), Post-Doc (Harvard, Stanford)
Principal InvestigatorMcGuigan Lab and
BioZone – Centre for Applied Bioscience and Bioengineering
Room: WB338 | Tel.: 416-978-7552 | Email:



Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society
Society for Biomaterials
Professional Engineers Ontario

Research Interests

Artificial tissues are emerging as a powerful tool for advancing personalized therapies for a broad range of diseases more efficiently. Unlike traditional 2-dimensional (2D) plastic surfaces for cell growth, artificial tissues offer a distinct advantage. Natural tissues are complex communities of cells organized within an equally complex extracellular matrix. 2D cultures fail to mimic this dynamic tissue environment, posing a challenge as cellular behavior is profoundly influenced by local surroundings. Moreover, many intricate cellular processes pertinent to regeneration and disease occur exclusively within 3D settings. Artificial tissues can be designed to recreate the necessary environmental signals to model and study complex cellular behaviours in a dish. The important environmental signals that orchestrate cell function across stable, regenerating, or diseased tissues are complex, involve multiple cell populations over multiple spatial scales, and are not well understood. Further, it is not known which signals drive the observed heterogeneity in cell function in different people. The use of artificial tissue platforms for developing new therapies and for personalizing which therapies are given to which people is therefore still in its infancy.

The McGuigan lab uses biomaterials and engineering technologies to create artificial tissues which can be used to develop and discover new drugs, decide which drugs to give to which patients, and potentially to predict which people are likely to get sick from specific diseases.

Our artificial tissues containing multiple cell types that accurately model the environment in a person and allow easy acquisition of high value data for drug discovery and fundamental research. Using these platforms, we are exploring the governing principles of tissue self-assembly, mechanisms of disease, and the development of novel therapies. Our team is multi-disciplinary and contains post-doctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate students who are biologists, engineers, chemists, mathematicians, and clinician scientists. We welcome applications from new team members with fresh ideas and novel perspective to join our team in advancing the field of tissue engineering!

Selected Publications

Pieters VM, Rjaibi ST, Singh K, Li NT, Khan ST, Nunes SS, Dal Cin A, Gilbert PM*, McGuigan AP (co-corresponding author), A three-dimensional human adipocyte model of fatty acid-induced obesity, Biofabrication 2022 Aug 19;14(4).

Wu NC, Cadavid JL, Tan X, Latour S, Scaini S, Makhijani P, McGaha TL, Ailles L, McGuigan AP. (Corresponding author), 3D microgels to quantify tumor cell properties and therapy response dynamics., Biomaterials 2022, 283, 121417.

Davoudi S, Xu B, Jacques E, Cadavid JL, McFee M, Chin C-Y, Meysami A, Ebrahimi M, Bakooshli MA, Tung K, Ahn H, Ginsberg HJ, McGuigan AP, Gilbert PM (Co-corresponding author) MEndR: An In Vitro Functional Assay to Predict In Vivo Muscle Stem Cell-Mediated Repair, Adv. Func. Mater., 2022, 32 (2), 2106548

An Engineered Patient-Derived Tumor Organoid Model That Can Be Disassembled to Study Cellular Responses in a Graded 3D Microenvironment, Natalie Landon-Brace, Jose L. Cadavid, Simon Latour, Ileana L. Co, Darren Rodenhizer, Nancy T. Li, Nila C. Wu, Eryn Bugbee, Aleks Chebotarev, Ji Zhang, Bradly G. Wouters, Alison P. McGuigan, Adv. Funct. Mater., 2021, 31 (41), 2105349

A three-dimensional engineered tumour for spatial snapshot analysis of cell metabolism and phenotype in hypoxic gradients., Rodenhizer D, Gaude E, Cojocari D, Mahadevan R, Frezza C, Wouters BG, McGuigan AP., Nat Mater. 2016 Feb;15(2):227-34. doi: 10.1038/nmat4482.

Assembly of lung progenitors into developmentally-inspired geometry drives differentiation via cellular tension., Soleas JP, D’Arcangelo E, Huang L, Karoubi G, Nostro MC, McGuigan AP, Waddell TK., Biomaterials. 2020:120128.

Design of biomimetic substrates for long-term maintenance of alveolar epithelial cells. Poon JCH, Liao Z, Suzuki T, Carleton MM, Soleas JP, Aitchison JS, Karoubi G, Mcguigan AP, Waddell TK. Biomater Sci. 2018 Jan; 6(2):292-303. doi: 10.1039/C7BM00647K