Peter Zandstra

If You Could Be Any Type of Cell, What Would You Be?

'We hope to understand how cells make decisions, leading to new therapies.'


Peter Zandstra is a Professor in the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto and is the Canada Research Chair in Stem Cell Bioengineering.  We asked him everything from what advice he would give to young researchers to what is on his playlist in hopes of giving you a better understanding of what goes on outside the lab for one of the best minds in Canadian research.

What inspired you to become a researcher?
[I] love the rush you get when you see something new, and was motivated by all the positive impact my father had in his research career.

How will your research make a difference in people’s lives?
We hope to provide a better fundamental understanding of how cells make decisions; this understanding may one day lead to new therapies.

What advice would you give to young researchers?
This career is only for you if you are internally driven by discovering the new and making things better.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? 
Contributing to the education of wonderful students and fellows I have been lucky enough to work with.

What do you read?
Everything; right now I am reading the teen novel “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian”. It is wonderful.

What natural talent would you like to be gifted with?
To be able to run like the wind … because it feels so free and good.

What’s on your iPod/CD collection/turntable?
Blackberry … still hanging on to my pro-Canadian thread. Listening to Bahamas this morning.

If you could do any profession other than your own what would it be? 
Tennis player

Do you have a favourite motto/words to live by?
Try not to have any regrets and to leave a positive impact in whatever you do.

Want to learn more about Prof. Otto’s research? Our blog highlights the work of one of his PhD students on introducing pluripotent stem cells.