Scientific Priorities

Medicine by Design invests strategically in research that will generate paradigm-shifting discoveries and enable better treatments sooner. We focus on the following scientific priority areas:

Icon with red cross and stylized cells1. Advancing living cells as therapies

Transplanting stem cells to repair and regenerate damaged tissues and organs holds incredible promise in the treatment of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, stroke and blindness. But first, we need to ensure these therapies are safe and can successfully replicate the diverse functions of human tissues and organs. To make cell therapies more widely available, we also need to ensure they can be transplanted into any patient “off-the-shelf” without being personalized.

Icon of lightbulb 2. Helping the body repair itself

Regenerative medicine doesn’t always mean transplanting cells. Researchers are also working on ways to use drugs, molecules and genes to prompt human cells to repair and regenerate themselves — also known as endogenous regeneration. Key areas of inquiry include how to deliver, control and monitor these therapies.

Icon of intertwined arrows3. Accelerating clinical impact

It can take years to turn a promising research breakthrough into an effective and widely available treatment. How can we speed up that process? What role can “clinical trials in a dish” play? Can we find models that better mimic human systems to test therapies on?

Icon of microscope4. Addressing long-standing, fundamental questions

James Till and Ernest McCulloch at the University of Toronto proved the existence of stem cells in the early 1960s. But many fundamental questions remain: How does an organ know how big to get? How can we ensure transplanted cells have a competitive advantage? Why do some organs, like the liver, grow back, and which molecular signals allow them to do that?