Professor Michael V. Sefton

Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry
and Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering

Appointed a University Professor in 2003

Professor Michael Sefton has been a pioneer not only in the emergence of bioengineering but also in the development of tissue engineering as a science, a technology and as an industry. His work on the development of pioneering procedures for microencapsulating mammalian cells for the purposes of cell transplantation and the preparation of materials that are compatible with blood has had a major international impact. His work has led to the development of a fundamental understanding of these phenomena and surface interactions underlying these developments. His research is centered on exploring biomaterials and biomaterial based devices as agonists of a biological response such as blood clotting or inflammation or new blood vessel formation.

The first of the biomedical problems noted by Professor Sefton's group involved the microencapsulation of living cells in a semi-permeable membrane using water insoluble, biocompatible polymers. His group was the first in the world to achieve this result without killing the cells. Other developments include the observation that a blood vessel network will form around some materials of specific composition, a finding with great importance for medicine. Sefton and his colleagues had also adapted fluorescent activated cytometry to the study of platelet and leukocyte activation, and have identified markers that are extremely sensitive to biomaterial surface chemistry, and have begun to use the markers to understand the mechanisms of biomaterial induced activation.

Professor Sefton has been the recipient of an impressive number of awards. In 1988 he received the Albright & Wilson Americas Award from the Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering and was one of twenty given a Century of Achievement Award by that organization in 1999. In 1992 he received the Clemson Award for Basic Research from the US Society for Biomaterials. He is a Fellow of the Chemical Institute of Canada and the Society for Biomaterials and a Foreign Fellow of AIMBE. Michael Sefton has also served the biomaterials and biotechnology community extremely well through his work on organizing committees and working parties of these Societies, NSERC, MRC/CIHR and NIH.

Professor Sefton has a prodigious publication record. He has authored 300 publications and 200 abstracts and holds 15 US and international patents. He has given more than 350 invited seminars and scientific presentations in 20 countries. He sits on (or has sat on) the editorial boards of many journals, including the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research, the Journal of Biomaterials Science, the Journal of Controlled Release, and Biomaterials, where he was also an Associate Editor from 1995 to 2002.

Professor Sefton received his Sc.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1974 and first joined the University of Toronto directly thereafter when he was appointed to the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry. His service to the University has been considerable, starting early in his career when he became Assistant Chair of the Department in 1981 and continuing through to his current appointment as Director of the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering.

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