Professor Molly Shoichet, University of Toronto, Canada was honoured to be named as an International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) ‘Distinguished Woman in Chemistry or Chemical Engineering’. The purpose of the awards program, initiated as part of the 2011 International Year of Chemistry celebrations, is to acknowledge and promote the work of women in chemistry/chemical engineering worldwide.
Professor Molly Shoichet. Image: Brigitte Lacombe
Awardees are usually selected ‘based on excellence in basic or applied research, distinguished accomplishments in teaching or education, or demonstrated leadership or managerial excellence in the chemical sciences’.
Professor Shoichet works at the intersection of engineering, chemistry and biology and is well-known for the design of innovative materials to enhance tissue regeneration in the central nervous system. She is a passionate advocate for science and engineering and, in 2017, was also the recipient of the SCI Canada Kalev Pugi Award, which acknowledges exceptional achievements in research and development by an individual or team, that are of benefit to Canada.
Her work addresses the areas of cell survival and integration. She pioneered a new approach to deliver drugs locally to the injured spinal cord and brain, overcoming the blood-brain barrier through a minimally-invasive, injectable polymer that provides local and sustained release to the injured tissue. She has also designed new polymers for 3D cell culture and is now testing these for drug screening in cancer.
On winning the award, Molly said, ‘I am honoured to be among a truly remarkable group of exceptional scientists and engineers.’
She added, ‘our research advances chemistry and engineering to answer questions in biology and medicine. Working at the interface of many disciplines, we have the opportunity to dream about solving “impossible” problems like restoring vision to the blind or cognitive function to those with stroke. With brilliant researchers in my own lab and those of our collaborators, we aim to invent the future of medicine with engineering and chemistry.’
‘I am delighted that Professor Molly Shoichet continues to be recognized internationally for her groundbreaking research and her leadership in promoting science and engineering,’ said Dean Cristina Amon. ‘On behalf of the Faculty, I congratulate her on this richly deserved honour and I thank IUPAC for celebrating the achievements of women scientists and engineers.’
Other recipients of the 2019 medal include RSC’s president, Professor Dame Carol Robinson, who leads a research group at the University of Oxford, and Professor Chris Willis, from Bristol University, who is a supervisor in the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Chemical Synthesis.