“The most essential ingredient that we have as scientists is curiosity. Science isn’t rote learning, but science is about trying to uncover something that no one’s uncovered before, questioning dogma, so bringing the curiosity of research into the classroom is something I love to do.”
Molly Shoichet, university professor at the University of Toronto, is an enthusiastic mentor to young scientists. She welcomes undergraduate students to her lab every summer, including Amgen scholar Allysia Chin. That firsthand practical experience enhances the knowledge that students gain during their degrees.
Getting to work on big problems alongside some of Toronto’s biggest names in biomedical research makes the Amgen Scholars Canada Program an exciting and sought after opportunity.
“We work in the field of regenerative medicine and also in cancer,” adds Shoichet.
“We design materials to promote cell survival after transplantation into the brain or the retina, the back of the eye, and we also design these really cool materials that mimic the way cancer cells grow natively in us, and we make those materials to grow in the lab.”
The researchers in Shoichet’s lab include undergraduate students, graduate students, technicians, and postdoctoral fellows. It’s a highly interdisciplinary group, and watching them grow is one of Shoichet’s favourite parts of the job.
“It’s really a great opportunity for me to see that next generation of scientists, work with them, help them develop their own creativity, their own independent thinking,” says Shoichet. “It’s what I love to do every day.”
Investing in young minds is an investment in the future of science. These are the opportunities that start here and continue to grow in directions we can’t even imagine.
“How do we restore vision? How do we overcome brain cancer? These are really big problems that we’re trying to work on. But you can’t invent the future without the tools, and without the experience,” says Shoichet.
“What’s so exciting is to come into the lab and try it out, see what you can do, see how you can invent the future. That’s what’s so exciting, and that’s why I love programs like the Amgen Scholars Program because it gives people that opportunity.”