Craig Simmons

Craig Simmons received his B.Sc. (Eng.) in bioengineering from the University of Guelph, where he garnered the E.B. MacNaughton Convocation Prize for excellence in academic and extracurricular activities. After completing a S.M. degree in Mechanical Engineering from MIT as an MRC Fellow, Professor Simmons received his Ph.D. in Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering from the University of Toronto, where he was recognized with the N.F. Moody Award as top graduate student in the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering (IBBME). Professor Simmons then completed a NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship in cell and tissue engineering with David Mooney at the University of Michigan and an American Heart Association Postdoctoral Fellowship in heart valve mechanobiology with Peter Davies at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2005, he returned to the University of Toronto as an assistant professor with cross-appointments to the Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering, the Faculty of Dentistry, and IBBME.

Professor Simmons is recognized internationally for his innovative and wide-ranging contributions to both fundamental science and practical applications in the field of mechanobiology. Mechanobiology is an emerging discipline at the interface of engineering and biology that aims to understand and control the mechanisms by which mechanical forces regulate the biological function of molecules, cells, and tissues. Professor Simmons’ approach breaks down traditional disciplinary boundaries to bridge the diverse fields of mechanical engineering, biomaterials science, and cell and molecular biology, towards the goal of developing new strategies and technologies for disease treatment. His current research is focused on discovering new treatments for heart valve and blood vessel diseases, including strategies to regenerate cardiovascular tissues using stem cells and biomaterials. His talented research group also creates novel organ-on-a-chip systems to improve drug testing. The impact of Professor Simmons’ research has been recognized with multiple awards, including the Canada Research Chair in Mechanobiology; the Ontario Early Researcher Award; the McCharles Prize (for exceptional performance and distinction in early career research); the McLean Award (for an emerging research leader at the University of Toronto); Fellow of the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering; and the Heart and Stroke Foundation CP Has Heart Award (one of 10 awarded in Canada).

Beyond his own research program, Professor Simmons has supported the research enterprise at the University of Toronto in multiple administrative roles. From 2009-2015 he served as Director of the NSERC CREATE program in Microfluidic Applications and Training in Cardiovascular Health (MATCH), which provided interdisciplinary scientific and professional training to over 75 graduate students. Since 2013 he has served as the Associate Director - Research in IBBME, where he has successfully implemented new seed grant programs and grant writing workshops and review processes. Most recently, Professor Simmons was appointed as the Scientific Director of the new Translational Biology and Engineering Program of the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research, where he leads a consortium of eight research groups from medicine and engineering towards solutions for preventing and treating heart failure.

Professor Simmons is also a committed educator who has won multiple teaching awards, including the Early Career Teaching Awards in the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering and the Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering in 2009 and the Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering Teaching Award in 2015. He served as the Biomedical Option Chair in the Division of Engineering Science from 2009-2013. During that time, he spearheaded a complete revision of the Biomedical Option curriculum to Biomedical Systems Engineering with a quantitative, multiscale systems focus. Professor Simmons teaches courses in dynamics, biomaterials, and biomechanics, and is the co-author of “Introductory Biomechanics: From Cells to Organisms”, a popular textbook published by Cambridge University Press.