Peter Zandstra

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University of Toronto
Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering

Dr. Zandstra graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering degree from McGill University in the Department of Chemical Engineering, obtained his Ph.D degree from the University of British Columbia in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, under the supervision of Jamie Piret and Connie Eaves. He continued his research training as a Post Doctoral Fellow in the field of Bioengineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (with Doug Lauffenburger) before being appointed to the University of Toronto in 1999.  Dr. Zandstra holds an academic appointment as a Professor at the University of Toronto’s Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering. He is cross appointed with the Departments of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry and Medical Genetics. Dr Zandstra is the Canada Research Chair in Stem Cell Bioengineering and is a recipient of a number of awards and fellowships including the Premiers Research Excellence Award (2002), the E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship (2006), the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2007), “Canada’s Top 40 Under 40” (2008) and the McLean Award (2009). Dr. Zandstra is a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dr Zandstra, currently serves associate editor for the journals Stem Cells, Stem Cell Research and Biotechnology and Bioengineering.

Research in the Zandstra Laboratory is focused on the regeneration of functional tissues from stem cells and the development and utilization of tools to modulate the responses of stem cells in vitro and in vivo. Interest in the generation of primary cells and tissues ex vivo is driven both by their potential use as a direct clinical modality and as human tissue analogues for the development of novel therapeutic agents. Dr Zandstra’s group particularly interested in understanding the role that the extracellular environment, the stem cell niche, plays in controlling stem cell fate decisions. Using quantitative bioengineering approaches including micro-fabrication, bioreactors, mathematically modeling and protein and cell engineering the Zandstra lab is discovering how stem cells integrate their complex microenvironment to make self-renewal or differentiation divisions. The group is focused on using this understanding to enable new therapeutically and technologically relevant strategies in regenerative medicine. The Zandstra lab focuses in particular on understanding how to grow human blood stem cells, and on understanding how to differentiate pluripotent stem cells into functional blood, cardiac and pancreatic tissue.

In addition to his research, Dr Zandstra teaches in Cellular Engineering, having developed both undergraduate and graduate curricula covering the use of mathematical models to describe and predict cell fate decisions. Dr Zandstra helped with the founding of the IBBME teaching laboratory, designing and implementing more than 6 labs. He currently serves as the Director of the University of Toronto’s Minor in Bioengineering, an engineering faculty-wide program designed to give undergraduate students a co-ordained series of courses in bioengineering related topics.