Event details at a glance

Date: Thursday, December 8, 2022
Time: 8:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Venue: MaRS Auditorium, 101 College Street or virtual
Poster session: Posters will be displayed during the symposium. Trainees will be available to discuss their work on Dec. 8 between 11:35 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.
Registration: Online registration is now closed,  if you wish to attend virtually please email

About the symposium

Join us for the seventh annual Medicine by Design symposium, “Grand Questions in Regenerative Medicine.” The symposium will bring together principal investigators and trainees from across the University of Toronto and its affiliated hospitals, along with industry partners, the investment community, government, the not-for-profit sector and international collaborators.

We will also hold a poster session featuring the research of select trainees working on Medicine by Design-funded projects.

Sessions and speakers

Session 1 – Outperforming Nature: Rejuvenation and Synthetic Biology

Moderator: Maryam Faiz, Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery, University of Toronto

Invited speaker

“Stem cell aging and rejuvenation”
Dr. Thomas Rando – Director, Broad Stem Cell Research Center, and Professor, Department of Neurology and Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology, University of California, Los Angeles

Thomas Rando is the Director of the Broad Stem Cell Research Center at UCLA where he is a professor of Neurology and Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology. Research in the Rando laboratory lies at the intersection of basic stem cell biology and the biology of aging. Dr. Rando’s research has revealed how stem cells respond to cues from their environment to modulate their ability to maintain tissues or engage in tissue repair. His laboratory is credited with pioneering work in stem cell aging that revealed how factors in blood can promote stem cell activity in young individuals and suppress it in older individuals. This work has led to novel clinical trials for age-related disorders. Dr. Rando is also a scientific founder and Chairman of the Board of Fountain Therapeutics, a platform company based on the understanding of cellular aging for drug discovery for the treatment of chronic-age related diseases.  

Dr. Rando has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles and has trained over 100 students, fellows, and visiting scholars, most of whom have continued in biomedical research careers. He has received numerous honors and awards for his work, including an NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, an Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar Award in Aging, the “Breakthroughs in Gerontology” Award from the American Federation for Aging Research, and a Transformative Research Award from the NIH. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a member of the National Academy of Medicine, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  

Medicine by Design speakers
  • “How do you solve a problem like ischemia?”
    Michael Garton – Assistant Professor, Institute of Biomedical Engineering, University of Toronto
  • “Accelerating the identification of skeletal muscle endogenous repair modulators”
    Penney Gilbert – Associate Professor, Institute of Biomedical Engineering, University of Toronto
  • “origamiFISH: universal, label-free imaging of DNA nanodevices in cells and tissues”
    Wendy Wang – Post-Doctoral Fellow,  Institute of Biomedical Engineering, University of Toronto

Session 2 – Deconstructing Cell Fate and Morphogenesis

Moderator: Jesse Gillis, Associate Professor, Department of Physiology, University of Toronto

Invited speakers

“New genomic technologies to deconstruct cell identity in reprogramming and development”
Samantha Morris – Associate Professor, Department of Developmental Biology and Genetics, Washington University in St. Louis

Samantha Morris, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Genetics and Developmental Biology at Washington University in St. Louis. Her laboratory studies the mechanisms of cell reprogramming, focusing on how transcription factors drive gene expression, epigenetic, and functional changes in cell identity. To enable these studies, her group develops novel, open-source single-cell experimental and computational approaches to longitudinally record lineage and gene regulation during directed reprogramming. With her team, Dr. Morris aims to engineer clinically relevant cell populations, translating new insights in cell fate specification into better models of disease and development. With clinical collaborators, her laboratory uses their genomic technologies to dissect mechanisms of pediatric gastrointestinal disease, such as Short Gut Syndrome and Hirschsprung’s Disease, with a long-term goal of developing novel regenerative therapies. Dr. Morris trained as a Developmental Biologist at the University of Cambridge. In Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz’s group, she investigated mechanisms of cell fate decision-making in the earliest stages of development. She then joined the laboratory of George Daley at Harvard Medical School, where she focused on the analysis of gene regulatory networks to dissect and engineer cell identity. In 2015, she established her independent research group. In 2017, Dr. Morris was named a Vallee Foundation Scholar. In 2019, she was awarded the St. Louis Academy of Science Innovation Award and was named an Allen Distinguished Investigator, and in 2020 a Sloan Research Fellow and a New York Stem Cell Foundation Robertson Investigator. She sits on the Board of Directors of the Society for Developmental Biology, serves on the editorial boards of Development, Cell Systems, Developmental Cell, and Cell Stem Cell, and is an Associate Editor at Development. 

Medicine by Design speakers
  • “Recording cell experiences to understand the rules of cellular programming”
    Alison McGuigan – Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, University of Toronto
  • “Emerging biophysical rules of morphogenesis”
    Dr. Sevan Hopyan – Senior Scientist, Program in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology, The Hospital for Sick Children
  • “Genetically engineering single cells and clones in vivo to study tissue architecture and cancer initiation”
    Katie Teng – PhD Candidate, Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Sinai Health System

Keynote speaker

Moderator: Gary Bader, Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto


“Cell atlases as roadmaps in development”
Aviv Regev – Head and Executive Vice President, Genentech Research and Early Development, Genentech

Aviv Regev is the head of Genentech Research and Early Development. Prior to Genentech, Regev served as Chair of the Faculty, Core Member, and Founding director of the Klarman Cell observatory at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and as Professor of Biology at MIT and Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She is a founding co-chair of the Human Cell Atlas. Regev has pioneered foundational experimental and computational methods in single-cell genomics, and is a leader in deciphering molecular circuits that govern cells, tissues and organs in health and disease. Among many honors, she is an elected member of the US National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Medicine. 

Session 3 – Decoding the Epigenome

Moderator: Chao Wang, Scientist, Biological Sciences Platform, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Invited speaker

“Epigenome actuation – engineered protein regulators that translate the epigenetic code”
Karmella Haynes – Assistant Professor, Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Emory University

Karmella Haynes is an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Emory University. She earned her Ph.D. studying epigenetics and chromatin in Drosophila at Washington University, St. Louis. Postdoctoral fellowships at Davidson College and Harvard Medical School introduced her to synthetic biology. Her Davidson HHMI postdoc fellowship project on bacterial computers was recognized as “Publication of the Year” in 2008 by the Journal of Biological Engineering. Today, her research aims to apply the intrinsic properties of chromatin, the DNA-protein structure that packages eukaryotic genes, to engineer proteins and nucleic acids that control cell development. After Dr. Haynes joined the faculty at the Emory School of Medicine in 2019, she received an NIH R21 grant (2019) to develop new protein engineering and computational tools for cancer epigenetics, and launched the annual NSF-funded AfroBiotech conference series (2019). She is a founder and instructor of the Cold Spring Harbor Summer Course on Synthetic Biology (2013 – present), a member of the national Engineering Biology Research Consortium (EBRC, 2014 – present), past advisor and current Judge Emeritus for the annual International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) competition (2007 – present), and a member of the NIH National Scientific Advisory Board for Biosecurity (2021). She was named one of 1000 Inspiring Black Scientists by Cell Mentor (Cell Press 2020), was a featured guest on PBS NOVA (2020) and PRI’s Science Friday (2016), was profiled in Forbes magazine (2020), and received Color Magazine’s Women of Color: Innovator in STEM award (2021). 

Medicine by Design speakers
  • “Stemness properties are encoded in the chromatin”
    Mathieu Lupien – Senior Scientist, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network
  • “The role of LINE1 in early human embryonic cell-fate transitions”
    Juan Zhang – Postdoctoral Fellow, Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Sinai Health System

Session 4 – Cell Therapies for Better Outcomes and Better Access

Moderator: Matthew Buechler – Assistant Professor, Department of Immunology, University of Toronto

Invited speaker

“Finding solutions to the challenges facing T-cell therapies for malignancy”
Cliona Rooney – Director, Translational Research Laboratories, Center for Cell and Gene Therapy, and Professor, Department of Pediatric, Baylor College of Medicine

Dr. Rooney received her PhD in Immunology from Cambridge University in 1981. After postdoctoral fellowships in virology and immunovirology with a focus on Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) at the Universities of Birmingham UK, and Yale, she joined the faculty of St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis Tennessee, where with Malcolm Brenner and Helen Heslop, she pioneered the use of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-specific T-cells (EBVSTs) for the treatment of EBV-associated malignancies occurring after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). In 1998 she transferred to Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) in Houston, where she is now a full Professor and Director of the Translational Research Laboratories of the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy (CAGT). At BCM, she extended her research to other viral infections of HSCT recipients and to the EBV-positive malignancies that occur in immunocompetent individuals. She has a particular interest in strategies that render T cells genetically resistant to inhibition by the tumor microenvironment, such as a dominant-negative TGF-beta receptor and a constitutively active IL-7 receptor both of which are in clinical trials. To add a safety switch for genetically enhanced T-cells, she developed the inducible caspase 9-based suicide gene that was inducible by dimerization and that has proved successful in clinical trials. To overcome the lack of in vivo proliferation of T-cells expressing chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) for tumor antigens, she evaluated the use of virus-specific T cells (VSTs) as hosts, so that CAR-VST activation and expansion can be induced by endogenous viruses, viral vaccines or oncolytic viruses. Dr. Rooney is the Director of the BCM graduate program in Translational Biology and Molecular Medicine — leadership experience that makes her well qualified to continue to lead her successful project in this iteration of our Lymphoma SPORE.

Medicine by Design speakers
  • “The development of hardware and molecular technologies for improving access to cell therapies”
    Keith Pardee – Associate Professor, Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto
  • “Harnessing post-transcriptional circuitries to advance hematopoietic stem cell-driven regenerative therapies”
    Kristin Hope – Senior Scientist, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network
  • “Exploring the cell therapy potential of human innate lymphoid cells to improve outcomes following haematopoietic stem cell transplant”
    Kyle Reid – PhD Candidate, Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, UHN

Poster session

The symposium will feature an in-person poster session to highlight the innovative research taking place in Medicine by Design-funded labs. The posters will be judged and prizes will be available for top posters, most translational research and people’s choice.

All attendees are encouraged to browse the posters, which will be displayed during the symposium. Trainees whose posters are featured in the session will be available to discuss their work on December 8, between 11:35 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.





Please email if you have any questions about the symposium.