Department Calendar of Events

LLE: Engineering human tissues for medical impact (Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, Columbia) @ ONLINE
Dec 1 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

External members were required to register to receive the link and passcode. Registration closed at 9am on Monday, November 29th.

Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, Columbia

Hosts: Profs Milica Radisic & Molly Shoichet


The classical paradigm of tissue engineering involves an integrated use of human stem cells, biomaterials (providing a specialized template for tissue formation) and bioreactors (providing environmental control, dynamic sequences of molecular and physical signals and insights into the structure and function of the forming tissues). This approach results in an increasingly successful representation of tissue development, regeneration and disease. Bioengineered human tissues are now being tailored to the patient and the condition being studied or treated. A reverse paradigm is emerging in recent years, with the emergence of “organs on a chip” platforms for modeling integrated human physiology, using micro-tissues derived from human iPS cells and linked by vascular perfusion. The common objectives are to recapitulate the cellular niches that can modulate cell behavior towards generating functional equivalents of native tissues. To illustrate the state of the art in the field and reflect on the current challenges and opportunities, this talk will discuss bioengineering of clinically relevant tissues and the use of “organs on a chip” platforms for patient-specific studies of human patho/physiology.

Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic is University Professor, the highest academic rank at Columbia University and the first engineer at Columbia to receive this distinction. The focus of her lab is on engineering functional human tissues for use in regenerative medicine and patient-specific “organs-on-a-chip” for studies of human physiology in health and disease. She is well published and highly cited (h=132), has mentored over 150 trainees, and launched four biotech companies form her lab.

She is serving on the Council of the NIBIB, the HHMI Scientific Review Board, and on numerous editorial and scientific advisory boards. She was inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame, received the Clemson Award of the Biomaterials Society, Pritzker Award of the Biomedical Engineering Society, Shu Chien Award of the AIChE, Pierre Galletti award of the AIMBE, and was elected Fellow of several professional societies. She was decorated by the Order of Karadjordje Star – Serbia’s highest honor, and elected to the Academia Europaea, Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, National Academy of Medicine, National Academy of Inventors, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the International Academy for Medical and Biological Engineering.


View the complete 2021-22 LLE schedule

Questions? Please contact Delicia Ansalem, Communications Officer & External Relations Liaison

SOCAAR Seminar: Elisabeth Galarneau, Ph.D. @ Microsoft Teams
Dec 1 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Upcoming SOCAAR Seminar:

Wednesday, December 1, 2021
3:00 – 4:00PM Join on
MS Teams (see below)

Elisabeth Galarneau, Ph.D.
Research Scientist

Air Quality Research Division
Environment and Climate Change Canada

Polycyclic aromatic compounds and other air toxics: toward understanding the whole air pollutant mixture.

Air quality issues have traditionally been divided between common air pollutants like ozone and contaminants such as polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs). Research has tended to be conducted by experts who are largely separated, who publish in different journals and attend different conferences. Environmental management has been distinct as well, with national programs and international agreements designed and implemented by different groups for ‘smog’ and ‘contaminants’. More recently, air quality research and management have begun to acknowledge that exposure and effects are affected by the simultaneous presence of multiple pollutants.  The whole air pollutant mixture has not yet been well-characterized at any location. Canadian efforts associated with PACs, air toxics and the urban air pollution mixture will be discussed to demonstrate how we can begin to better understand ambient air and its overall impacts on human health and the environment.

For more information, see the full abstract:
If you have any questions, please contact

Redesigning Drug Design @ Zoom
Dec 8 @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am

Redesigning Drug Design by Dr. John Chodera
Wednesday, December 8th @ 10:00AM
Zoom Link:
Passcode: 398523

As machine learning and physical modeling technologies are reaching maturity, a new era of technological innovation in computer-driven drug discovery is dawning. In this talk, we highlight an exciting new generation of tools that blend machine learning with physical modeling to accelerate structure-enabled drug discovery programs, with the goal of ultimately enabling fully autonomous drug discovery. We also highlight the role these tools have played in the COVID Moonshot, an open science global collaborative effort to discover a novel patent-free oral SARSCoV-2 antiviral with the goal of rapid, global, and equitable access.

John Chodera’s research focuses on reimagining the way we develop small molecule drugs and pair therapeutics with individual patient tumors by bringing physical modeling and structure-informed machine learning into the cancer genomics era. By combining novel algorithmic advances to achieve orders-of-magnitude efficiency gains with powerful but inexpensive GPU hardware, machine learning, and distributed computing technologies, the Chodera lab is developing next-generation approaches and open source software for predicting small molecule binding affinities, designing small molecules with desired properties, predicting drug sensitivity or resistance of clinical mutations, and understanding the detailed structural mechanisms underlying oncogenic mutations. The Chodera lab co-develops the OpenMM GPU-powered molecular simulation framework, which powers numerous biomolecular modeling and simulation applications using physical modeling and machine learning. As a core member of the Folding@home Consortium, the lab harnesses the largest computing platform in the world—the first to reach an exaFLOP/s—pooling the efforts of a million volunteers around the world to study functional implications of mutations and new opportunities for therapeutic design against cancer targets and global pandemics. Dr. Chodera co-founded the Open Force Field Initiative, a scientific collaboration funded by the NIH and an industry consortium consisting of dozens of scientists working to develop modern open source infrastructure for building and applying high-quality biomolecular force fields. Dr. Chodera is a co-founder of the COVID Moonshot, a radical open science patent-free drug discovery effort aiming to develop an inexpensive small molecule therapy effective against COVID-19 and future coronavirus. Using automated biophysical measurements, the Chodera laboratory collects new experimental data targeted to advance the quantitative accuracy of our methodologies, and gather new insight into drug susceptibility and resistance in kinases and other cancer targets. Their work makes extensive use of scalable Bayesian statistical inference, machine learning via probabilistic programming, and information theoretic principles for designing experiments and quantifying error. Dr. Chodera is passionate about open science, disseminating scientific best practices, and maximizing research reproducibility

iFAST Environmental Biotechnology Special Perry McCarty Symposium @ Zoom
Dec 16 @ 10:00 am – Dec 18 @ 12:30 pm

Coming soon is a special iFAST Symposium to celebrate Prof. Perry L. McCarty‘s 90th birthday and honor his outstanding contributions to Environmental Biotechnology.  We invite you to attend this remarkable tribute.  

This special symposium will be spread among three days, December 16-18, 2021, 2.5 hours each day, 3:00 pm-5:30 pm UTC/GMT.  Here is the information you need to know to join the symposium:

Dates:    December 16-18, 2021Times:   3:00 pm – 5:30 pm UTC/GMT               10:00 am – 12:30 pm EST
               7:00 am – 9:30 am PST               11:00 pm – 1:30 am China

Zoom link:

Please see the agenda and check for the latest updates at our event webpage:

 If you have any questions, please contact us at

On behalf of iFAST and the Symposium Organizing Committee:
Bruce Rittmann (chair), Kenneth Williamson, Craig Criddle, Jaeho Bae, Elizabeth Edwards, & Alison Cupples

SOCAAR Seminar with Prof. Naomi Zimmerman @ Zoom
Jan 12 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Upcoming SOCAAR Seminar:

Wednesday, January 12, 2022
2:00 – 3:00PM

Join on MS Teams(Phone Conference ID: 317 125 206#)

Prof. Naomi Zimmerman

Assistant Professor Department of Mechanical Engineering University of British Columbia (UBC)

Air quality, odour, health and equity: Leveraging interdisciplinary approaches to understand the impacts of cannabis cultivation in Metro Vancouver

In 2018, Canada became the only G7 nation to legalize cannabis for non-medical (recreational or non-prescribed uses) and medical use at the federal level. To date, there are over 500 facilities with licenses to cultivate cannabis. Of these, almost 25% are located in British Columbia, with some of the largest cultivation greenhouses being located or developed in the Metro Vancouver region. 

As the number and size of cannabis cultivation facilities (CCFs) have grown, so have odour-related complaints; a report from March 2019 listed 326 complaints in Metro Vancouver over a 12-month period. The odours associated with CCFs are caused by emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can also increase formation of health-damaging pollutants such as ground-level ozone (O3) and particulate matter (PM). As such, air quality regulators have begun exploring options to curb these emissions. In this talk, I will highlight ongoing work in the Metro Vancouver region to understand CCF emissions from an interdisciplinary lens. This includes the development and deployment of a citizen science web application for reporting CCF odours and observed health effects (, modelling of odourous emissions and their dispersion, and plans for real-world ambient sampling of emissions from CCFs using mobile monitoring. The talk will also provide a high-level summary of identified knowledge gaps in our understanding of the air quality impacts of CCF facilities from the occupational to community scale.

For more information, please contact

Microsoft Teams meeting

Join on your computer or mobile app
Click here to join the meeting

Or call in (audio only)
+1 647-794-1609,,317125206#   Canada, Toronto

Phone Conference ID: 317 125 206#

Cell Therapy Minisymposium @ Zoom
Jan 19 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm

EnVISIONing reGENEration WITHIN tissues by enhancing cell-based plasticity

Please register via Zoom.

Cindi Morshead to give land acknowledgement and opening remarks

Penney Gilbert introduces Sally Temple
Sally Temple, Scientific Director, Neural Stem Cell Institute
Using stem cell technology to combat age-related neurodegenerative disease


Cell transplantation therapy to restore vision

Valerie Wallace introduces Rachael Pearson
Rachael Pearson, Professor, King’s College London
Stem cell-derived cone photoreceptor transplantation to restore vision

Arturo Ortin-Martinez, Scientific Associate, Krembil Research Institute
Modulating intracellular material transfer in transplanted photoreceptors

Margaret Ho, PhD Student, University of Toronto
A hyaluronan and methylcellulose-based hydrogel to perturb photoreceptor material transfer

Madison Gray, PhD Student, University of Toronto
Tracing synaptic connections in normal and regenerating retina


Gene therapy to promote neuroplasticity

Maryam Faiz introduces Shane Liddelow
Shane Liddelow, Assistant Professor, New York University
Reactive astrocyte heterogeneity in Inflammation and neurodegenerative disease

Justine Bajohr, PhD Student, University of Toronto
Astrocyte reprogramming for brain repair

Rikke Kofoed, Postdoctoral Fellow, Sunnybrook Research Institute
Kate Noseworthy, MSc student, University of Toronto
Focused ultrasound mediates brain plasticity and viral vector delivery

Hussein Ghazale, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Toronto
Glia to neuron conversion in a mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Stimulating endogenous repair in neural and muscle tissue

Julie Lefebvre introduces Joshua Sanes
Joshua Sanes, Professor, Harvard University
Enhancing neuronal survival and regeneration after retinal injury: insights from single cell

Emily Gilbert, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Toronto
Metformin-mediated recovery following spinal cord injury: Sex-dependent effects on
inflammation and neural precursor cells

Erik Jacques, PhD Student, University of Toronto
Engineered bio-mimetic niche supports muscle stem cell quiescence

Danielle Jeong, PhD Student, University of Toronto
Characterization of neural stem cells and their niche during CNS remyelination

Molly Shoichet to give closing remarks

Information and registration via Zoom.

Cell Therapy Mini Symposium Poster (Portrait) – updated Jan 18, 2022:

Symposium poster

SOCAAR Seminar with Sandra Odendahl @ Virtual - Microsoft Teams
Feb 2 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Upcoming SOCAAR Seminar:

Wednesday, February 2, 2022
3:00 – 4:00PM

Join on MS Teams
(Phone Conference ID: 770 545 938#)

Sandra Odendahl, P.Eng., CFA
Vice President and Global Head of Sustainability, Scotiabank

The Role of Finance in Canada’s Quest for Net Zero

For more information, please contact
SOCARR website:
LLE: At the Exciting Intersection of Quantum Chemistry and Non-equilibrium Dynamics (Prineha Narang, Harvard) @ Zoom
Feb 16 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

External members were required to register to receive the link and passcode. Registration closed at 9am on February 14. 

Prineha Narang, Harvard

Host: Prof. Frank Gu


Quantum systems host spectacular nonequilibrium effects and unconventional transport phenomena, but many of these remain challenging to predict and consequently, technologically unexplored. My group’s research focuses on how quantum systems behave, particularly away from equilibrium, and how we can harness emergent effects in these systems. By creating predictive theoretical and computational approaches to study dynamics, decoherence and correlations in molecules and materials, our work enables technologies that are inherently more powerful than their classical counterparts, ranging from scalable quantum information processing to ultra-high efficiency optoelectronic and energy conversion systems. Capturing these phenomena poses unique computational and theoretical challenges. In fact, the simultaneous contributions of processes that occur on many time and length-scales has eluded state-of-the-art computational physics and model Hamiltonian approaches alike, necessitating a new lens. In this context, I will focus on our work on approaches to describe excited-states in quantum matter, including electron-electron and electron-phonon interactions beyond leading order, and predicting emergent states introduced by external drives. Our approach brings quantum chemistry, quantum optics and condensed matter together to create unexpected and useful properties, including surprisingly long coherence times and propagation lengths, as well as enabling new quantum probes of correlations. I will also discuss our methods in spatially-resolved non-equilibrium transport in quantum matter. By introducing GPU-accelerated large-scale transport frameworks that retain microscopic scattering, we are overcoming long-standing barriers in the field and taking transport in matter to exascale computing. Finally, I will share our vision for the future towards crossing the finite-extended system divide, and leveraging the power of both classical high-performance computing and quantum computation paradigms in predicting new phenomena.

Professor Prineha Narang came to Harvard University from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she worked as a Research Scholar in Condensed Matter Theory in the Department of Physics. She received an M.S. and Ph.D. in Applied Physics from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Prineha’s work has been recognized by many awards and special designations, including a Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, a Max Planck Sabbatical Award from the Max Planck Society, and the IUPAP Young Scientist Prize in Computational Physics in 2021, an NSF CAREER Award in 2020, being named a Moore Inventor Fellow by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation for pioneering innovations in quantum science, CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, and a Top Innovator by MIT Tech Review (MIT TR35).

View the complete 2021-22 LLE schedule


Questions? Please contact Delicia Ansalem, Communications Officer & External Relations Liaison

From Foods to Function: Research at the Food-Nutrition Interface @ Zoom
Feb 24 @ 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

BioZone will be hosting Professor Amanda Wright, from the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, at the University of Guelph on Thursday, February 24th from 3 pm – 4:30 pm.


Functional foods deliver health benefits beyond basic nutrition. Natural health product (NHP) is the Canadian regulatory term for over-the-counter supplements that contain health-promoting molecules derived from foods, e.g., vitamins, minerals, herbals, probiotics. Together, these product categories encompass so much of the science and technology surrounding foods and nutrition. Our group works at the food-nutrition interface to support the evidence-basis for a variety of functional foods and NHPs. We have specialized interests in dietary lipids and in understanding how the structure of foods and food ingredients influences bioavailability and metabolic response, mediated by events in the gastrointestinal tract.

For example, what role does triacylglycerol crystallinity play in determining postprandial lipemia and what does this mean for saturated fatty acids? This talk will discuss our application of in vitro digestion and human research methods to relate emulsion properties to gastric microstructure, emptying, and postprandial satiety and lipemia (a risk factor for cardiometabolic diseases) to highlight the benefits of integrated food-nutrition research. Examples drawing on other functional foods will also be presented. Foods have always been functional. Focusing specifically on food structure and applying a physical property lens to what happens in the gastrointestinal tract paves the way for better understanding the nuanced relationships between foods and health, and ultimately to realize the potential for efficacious functional foods and NHPs.

Speaker Bio

Amanda Wright is an Associate Professor in the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, College of Biological Sciences at the University of Guelph. She holds a BSc (Food Science – University of Guelph, 1998) and PhD (Food Chemistry – University of Guelph, 2002) and completed postdoctoral training in Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, University of Toronto). Amanda teaches in the Nutritional and Nutraceutical Sciences BSc Program and leads an interdisciplinary research group working at the food-nutrition interface. In particular, She has specialized expertise in dietary lipids and has held NSERC funding in this area since 1997. Amanda works to integrate advanced food analysis and in vitro digestion methods with human clinical trials for a variety of foods and natural health products. She also serves as Director of the Human Nutraceutical Research Unit (, a research and education vehicle at the University of Guelph which specializes in collaborative nutrition clinical trials.

For more information about the series:Contact Sofia Bonilla; or Olan Raji;


Join Zoom Meeting: ID: 839 7592 7179Passcode: 054682

SOCAAR Seminar: Bridging the gap between microbiology and chemistry in built environments @ Microsoft Teams
Mar 2 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Bridging the gap between microbiology and chemistry in built environments

Prof. Sarah Haines, Assistant Professor
Department of Civil & Mineral Engineering
University of Toronto

We spend the majority of our time indoors where the built environment has important implications for human health, particularly for those with asthma. Asthma disproportionately impacts low-socioeconomic communities due to poor quality housing associated with mold and moisture exposure. One of the main exposures to mold in housing is through the resuspension of floor dust. Microbes grow in carpet dust at elevated relative humidity conditions and release microbial volatile organic compounds (mVOCs). However, we do not know how the influence of moisture may drive species composition and chemical emissions from microbes in dust and on common building materials. Understanding
these interactions in the indoor environment is the next frontier in environmental engineering and has the potential to lead to substantial improvements in public health.

Utilizing cutting edge techniques, my work has ranged from collecting dust in carpet from homes in Ohio to analyzing dust particles from the International Space Station. Ultimately, results from my work have demonstrated that microbial growth can be quantitatively modeled in buildings, and for the first time demonstrated interactions between chemicals and microbes in house dust under elevated relative humidity conditions. My future work will link climate change, social justice, and viruses to contribute to healthy indoor environments.

Microsoft Teams meeting:
Join on your computer or mobile app
Click here to join the meeting

Or call in (audio only)
+1 647-794-1609,,691691226#   Canada, Toronto

Phone Conference ID: 691 691 226#
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