Dr. Peter Zandstra graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering degree from McGill University in the Department of Chemical Engineering, and obtained his Ph.D. degree from the University of British Columbia (UBC) 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). In 1999, Dr. Zandstra began his faculty appointment at the University of Toronto’s (UofT’s) Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, with cross appointments in the Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research and Chemical Engineering. During his time at the UofT, he has held the Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Stem Cell Bioengineering and he was appointed University Professor (2016), the university’s highest academic rank. In addition to his UofT appointment, in July 2017, Zandstra joined the University of British Colombia as the Founding Director of a new School of Biomedical Engineering and as the Director of the Michael Smith Laboratories. In these roles, he aims to build programs with deeper interactions between the departments of engineering, biology and medicine, especially in the area of cellular and molecular engineering and synthetic biology.
Zandstra’s research integrates engineering and biological approaches and in the last several years, work in his lab has focused on using computer modelling and strict control of the microenvironment (niche engineering) to develop a deeper understanding of the regulatory networks that determine stem cell fate. He served as the Executive Director of Medicine by Design (2015-2017), and has co-founded three biotech companies. He is the Chief Scientific Officer at the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM), a Toronto-based regenerative medicine translation centre. In addition, Zandstra serves as the Scientific Founder and Chief Technology Officer for ExCellThera. This Canadian clinical stage cell therapy company focuses on development, manufacturing and distribution of expanded and genetically engineered hematopoietic stem cells for therapeutics treating blood diseases. He is the recipient of a number of awards and fellowships including: the Premier’s Research Excellence Award (2002), the E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship (2006), the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2007), the McLean Award (2009), and the Till and McCulloch Award (2013). In 2015 Zandstra was elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and most recently was also the recipient of the 2017 Scale-Up and Manufacturing of Cell-Based Therapies Award from Engineering Conferences International.