University Professor and Donnelly Centre Investigator Michael Sefton Elected to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering

Feb 7, 2020
Carolyn Farrell

The prestigious appointment recognizes Michael Sefton's pioneering accomplishments in tissue engineering (Photo by Neil Ta). Donnelly Centre investigator Michael Sefton has been elected as an international member of the United States National Academy of Engineering (NAE) “for advances in biomaterials and tissue engineering through cell microencapsulation and leadership of large-scale research initiatives.” The NAE provides engineering leadership in service to the United States and globally; its members rank among the world’s most accomplished engineers.

Sefton, a University Professor at the Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering (IBBME), the Michael E. Charles Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry and Executive Director of Medicine by Design, is a world leader in biomaterials, biomedical engineering and regenerative medicine. He was one of the first to combine living cells with polymers with the aim of creating artificial tissues, effectively launching the field now known as tissue engineering.

Sefton’s lab, located in the Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research, has created biomaterials that actively promote the growth of blood vessels, accelerating wound healing and supporting the development of lab-grown tissues. These novel materials are the first of a new class of biomaterials with drug-like activity, but without any drugs (or cells) included within the material. This opens up a world of possibilities for creating drug delivery systems and regenerating tissues without cells.

A leader in his professional community, Sefton 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, he was director of IBBME, leading its development into one of the top institutes of its kind in North America. He currently serves as executive director of Medicine by Design, a U of T initiative accelerating discoveries in regenerative medicine to improve treatments for conditions such as heart failure, diabetes and stroke.

Sefton has received several of the most distinguished awards in engineering and biomedicine, including the U.S. Society for Biomaterials Founders Award, the Killam Prize in Engineering, the Engineers Canada Gold Medal, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society and the Terumo Global Science Prize. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, an international member of the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, and an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Sefton will be inducted into the NAE in a ceremony scheduled to take place in October in Washington, D.C.

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