The research lab directed by Dr. Stephanie Willerth focuses on engineering 3D scaffolds to direct the behaviour of stem cells as they differentiate in different types of tissues, including neural tissue similar to that found in the spinal cord.
Specifically, she uses embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells for these applications, as these cells can become any cell type found in the body. These engineered tissues derived from stem cells could serve as a possible treatment for patients suffering from spinal cord injuries.
This research program corresponds with British Columbia's commitment to finding potential cures for SCI. Dr. Willerth belongs to iCORD (International Collaboration On Repair Discoveries), a BC-based organization dedicated to spinal cord injury research.
This tissue engineering-based research program is the first of its kind at the University of Victoria, providing unique opportunities for students to access the resources of both the engineering and neuroscience programs, as Dr. Willerth holds joint appointments in both the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Division of Medical Sciences