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Michael Sefton, Sc.D.

AIMBE College of Fellows Class of 1997
For contribution to cardiovascular biomaterials and tissue engineering.

TBEP and MBD: Engineered Smart Scaffolds Could Help Repair Damaged Hearts And Muscles

Via U. Toronto | January 25, 2017

A scar on your skin may be insignificant, but a scar on your heart could be deadly. Scar tissue in muscle can impair its function and lead to long-term damage, from limping to heart failure.

Leading-edge research from U of T Engineering is addressing this challenge. Two multidisciplinary teams consisting of engineers, biologists, physicians and other medical experts are designing implantable materials that activate the body’s innate response to injury, leading to more complete healing and preventing harmful complications.

These projects are made possible through Medicine by Design and the Translational Biology and Engineering Program (TBEP), two major collaborative research initiatives led by U of T Engineering faculty members that have been created in the last three years. Medicine by Design and TBEP unite researchers from U of T Engineering and many other Faculties across University of Toronto, as well as external partners at hospitals and research institutions.

“We could synthesize all those different proteins and deliver them to the area, but it would be very cumbersome,” says Michael Sefton (ChemE, IBBME), lead researcher on the collaboration.

Instead, the team aims for a simpler approach. They want to create an implantable material that incorporates the effect of the signaling proteins into its chemical structure. This more elegant solution would still activate the satellite cells, while ensuring that the response stays localized and lasts throughout recovery. “We want a device, not a drug,” says Sefton.

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Michael Sefton receives $1.1M from JDRF for type 1 diabetes research

Via U. Toronto | October 12, 2016

University of Toronto professor Michael Sefton (ChemE, IBBME) has been presented with a major research award from international diabetes foundation JDRF to advance treatment research for type 1 diabetes (T1D).The funding, valued at approximately $1.1 million ($845,135 USD), supports a three-year study at the University of Toronto’s Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering (IBBME) to explore an experimental treatment that involves transplanting healthy pancreatic cells into patients living with the disease. Once successfully implanted, these cells can then produce insulin to help regulate blood glucose levels.Though promising, these cells — known as pancreatic islet cells— are fragile, and current transplantation sites such as the abdominal cavity and liver are “hostile” environments that can increase the likelihood of rejection.Sefton and his team are investigating whether transplanting islet cells under the skin will improve the cells’ survival.“The skin is a less hostile site for islets and has clinical advantages of being more accessible than current sites and possibly be even safer for patients,” said Sefton, who holds appointments in U of T’s Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry and IBBME. “However, one of the challenges of using the skin as a transplant site is that it has relatively few blood vessels.”Sefton, a world-renowned tissue engineering pioneer, plans to apply his team’s expertise to creating a “‘pre-vascularized” environment rich in blood vessels under the skin to ensure the survival of the insulin-producing cells before transplantation takes place.

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Michael Sefton to receive Lifetime Achievement Award from the Tissue Engineering & Regenerative Medicine International Society

Via U. Toronto | August 29, 2016

University of Toronto biomedical engineering University Professor Michael Sefton (IBBME, ChemE) has been named this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Tissue Engineering & Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS). The award, issued by the organization’s Americas chapter, recognizes his immense contributions to the fields of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.

Sefton joins an elite list of renowned recipients, including MIT professor of chemical engineering Robert Langer and founding director of the University of Pittsburgh’s McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Alan Russell.

Sefton has made significant contributions to research advances in biomaterials, biomedical engineering and regenerative medicine. He was one of the first to combine living cells with polymers, effectively launching the field now now called tissue engineering. Recently, his lab has created biomaterials that actively promote the growth of blood vessels — such materials accelerate wound healing and support the development of lab-grown tissues.

Among his numerous awards and accolades, Sefton received the European Society for Biomaterials International Award in April, the Terumo Global Science Prize in January and was named last year to the U.S. National Institute of Medicine. He holds the title of University Professor, the highest academic rank at the University of Toronto, reserved for less than two per cent of tenured faculty.

A leader in his professional community, he served as president of the U.S. Society for Biomaterials in 2005 and has spearheaded several programs to advance the field. From 1999 to 2005, Sefton was director of the Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering (IBBME) leading its development into one of the top institutes of its kind in North America.

“This is a terrific recognition of Michael’s outstanding efforts throughout his career in advancing the field of tissue engineering,” said IBBME director Professor Christopher Yip.

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Professor Michael Sefton receives European Society for Biomaterials International Award

Via U. Toronto | April 1, 2016

University of Toronto biomedical engineering Professor Michael Sefton has been named the 2016 recipient of the International Award from the European Society for Biomaterials. The award recognizes his scientific profile, major contributions to the field of biomaterials and longstanding active collaboration with the European scientific community.

Sefton joins an elite list of internationally renowned recipients, including drug delivery and protein transport pioneer Nicholas Peppas and Case Western Reserve University pathology Professor James Anderson.

Sefton has made significant contributions to biomaterials, biomedical engineering and regenerative medicine. He was one of the first to combine living cells with polymers, effectively launching what is now called tissue engineering. Recently, his lab has created biomaterials that actively promote the growth of blood vessels. Such materials accelerate wound healing and support the development of lab-grown tissues.

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Professor Michael Sefton Awarded The Terumo Global Science Prize

Via U. Toronto | January 12, 2016

University of Toronto engineering professor Michael Sefton (ChemE, IBBME) has been named the 2016 recipient of the Terumo Global Science Prize for his achievements in tissue engineering and novel biomaterials discovery.

This is only the third time the Terumo Foundation for Life Sciences and Arts has awarded the prize. Sefton joins an elite list of internationally-renowned recipients, including MIT professor of chemical engineering Robert Langer and drug delivery research pioneer Sung Wan Kim of the University of Utah.

“The award is a fantastic acknowledgement of the University’s excellence in this area and the contributions of my trainees over many years,” said Sefton. “I am particularly pleased that the Terumo Foundation specifically cited my efforts to ‘develop younger generations’ who are now promising leaders themselves.”

Sefton is a leader in the field of tissue engineering and has made significant contributions to biomaterials, biomedical engineering and regenerative medicine. He is well-known in his field for combining living cells and synthetic polymers to create tissue-like materials that could help restore lost function in humans. More recently, his lab has created biomaterials that actively promote the growth of blood vessels. Such materials accelerate wound healing and/or support the development of lab-grown tissues.

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Engineers Receive Grant For ‘Artificial Liver’ That Could Help Find More Effective Drugs

Via U. Toronto | June 18, 2015

A research team led by U of T Engineering Professor Craig Simmons (MIE, IBBME) received $300,000 this week to create a 3D model of the human liver. Funded by Ontario Centres of Excellence and pharmaceutical consortium CQDM, the project could help determine whether or not new drug molecules are safe for use in humans.

Drug developers rely on lab tests and preclinical trials to determine how a potential drug molecule might react when processed by the liver or other organs in the human body. One form of testing is to try the drug on lab-grown cells, but an individual cell can behave very differently to one in its natural environment that is surrounded by blood vessels and other components of tissue.

Simmons, along with Professor Michael Sefton (ChemE, IBBME) and other team members, have developed a way to grow small amounts of three-dimensional liver tissue in the lab. The team is now incorporating these bits of tissue into a microfluidic platform that simulates the flow of blood through the liver. In this way, they could simultaneously test dozens of chemical compounds to determine what their effect on the liver might be. The system will allow them to screen out drugs with potential negative effects at a very early stage of the drug development process.

“Our improved liver model will identify and eliminate toxic and ineffective drugs earlier in the drug discovery process,” said Simmons. As a result, the liver model will reduce the time, cost and reliance on animal testing for drug development.

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Professor Inducted To The Canadian Academy Of Engineering

Via U. Toronto | June 5, 2015

Eight members of the U of T Engineering community have been inducted as fellows of the Canadian Academy of Engineering (CAE).

Professors Kamran Behdinan (MIE), Greg Evans (ChemE), Vladimiros Papangelakis (ChemE), Michael Sefton (ChemE, IBBME) and Jim Wallace (MIE), along with alumni Pu Chen (MIE MASc 9T3, PhD 9T8) and Anne Sado (IndE 7T7) are among the Academy’s 50 new fellows. Alumnus Norbert Morgenstern (CivE 5T6) was inducted as an honorary fellow.

The CAE comprises the country’s most accomplished engineers, who have demonstrated their dedication to the application of science and engineering principles in the interests of Canada. Fellows of the Academy are nominated and elected by their peers, in view of their distinguished achievements and career-long service to the engineering profession.

“I am delighted so many of our faculty and alumni have been recognized by the Canadian Academy of Engineering for their extraordinary contributions,” said Dean Cristina Amon. “I would like to extend heartfelt congratulations to our honourees. This recognition demonstrates the depth and breadth of their achievements and confirms that U of T engineers are leaders in their fields, both in Canada and around the world. ”

Professor Sefton is a pioneer in the field of tissue engineering and has made significant contributions to biomaterials, biomedical engineering and regenerative medicine. A leader in his professional community, he served as president of the U.S. Society for Biomaterials from 2005-2006 and has spearheaded several programs to advance the field. From 1999-2005, Professor Sefton was director of IBBME, leading its development into one of the best institutes of its kind in North America. His many honours include the Ontario Professional Engineers Gold Medal, the Engineers Canada Gold Medal and the Killam Prize in Engineering. He was recently inducted into the Institute of Medicine of the U.S. National Academies of Science.

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Tissue Engineering Pioneer Michael Sefton Named to the U.S. Institute of Medicine

Via U. Toronto | October 21, 2014

This week, University Professor Michael Sefton (ChemE, IBBME) was invited to join the United States Institute of Medicine (IOM)—a rare honour bestowed upon few Canadian scientists and engineers.

Sefton is a global leader in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. His research tackles a question central to the field: how can scientists construct or grow blood vessels that will keep engineered tissues vital and alive?

Sefton is cross-appointed to U of T’s Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry and the Institute for Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering (IBBME), as well as affiliated with the Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research (CCBR). He was among the first to demonstrate the significant synergy that was possible between chemical engineering principles and biomedical engineering.

Approximately fifteen years ago, Sefton’s group observed that a particular biomaterial “caused blood vessels to grow [as if] by magic,” he explained. “[But] since we don’t understand why we get blood vessels, it is difficult to exploit this phenomenon.”

He hopes that within the next few years his team will have unraveled the baffling mystery of blood vessel growth, allowing them to develop tissues with strong vascular functions. If successful, his research will significantly advance the field of tissue engineering.

“Professor Sefton has made tremendous contributions to the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine,” said Cristina Amon, Dean of the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering. “On behalf of the Faculty, my heartfelt congratulations for this richly-deserved induction to the prestigious Institute of Medicine.

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Michael Sefton Honored with Gold Medal Award from Engineers Canada

Via Engineers Canada | May 23, 2014

Canada’s engineering profession is proud to once again honour the accomplishments of remarkable professional engineers during the Engineers Canada Awards Gala on Saturday evening at the Hilton Saint John Hotel.

The Gold Medal Award is the engineering profession’s highest honour, presented for achievement and distinction in engineering. This year’s Gold Medal Award recipient is Michael V. Sefton, P.Eng., FRCS. Professor Sefton of the University of Toronto is being honoured for his groundbreaking work in tissue engineering. He was the first to recognize the importance of combining living cells with synthetic polymers to create ‘artificial’ organs and tissues. His current research into the creation of modular tissue components seeks to create cardiac muscle to treat heart failure and pancreatic tissue for diabetes, among other possibilities.

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