Signals Blog

My grandfather was a mathematician and chemical engineer who worked on the Manhattan Project. I dated a chemical engineer for two years. Those two associations are the full breadth of my understanding of this field of science. Apparently I took chemistry in high school, but I don’t remember a thing. A classmate assures me I attended class regularly.

So now I find myself in an environment that is filled with chemical engineers – mostly PhDs I might add. As the communications professional in this environment, to say that I’m a fish out of water is an understatement. I’m not so much grasping for oxygen as a modicum of enlightenment.

While my brainy colleagues at the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM) spend their days discussing the many nuances of HiPSCs, intellectual property, differentiation of cardiomyocytes, cell lines, reagents, devices and more, I am doing my best to gain a basic understanding of reprogramming, cell manufacturing and the building blocks of biomaterials and devices – CCRM’s three translational platforms. CCRM has been open for business since June 2011, but I’m still feeling out to lunch. (I joined in January 2012.)

CCRM has three elements to its business strategy:

  • ENABLE unique translational platforms that address the key bottlenecks in regenerative medicine (RM) commercialization;
  • INTEGRATE Canada’s strength in stem cell and biomaterials sciences with dynamic business leadership; and,
  • ENGAGE industry partners, making CCRM a global nexus of RM commercialization.

“Enable, integrate and engage” is my mantra as I navigate these fascinating new waters. Regenerative medicine is an exciting field and I’m enjoying the learning process. My colleagues are helpful and patient, and I respect their enthusiasm, commitment and vision.

It might be a while before I share my thoughts again in this forum. I’m on my way to hunt for a copy of Stem Cells for Dummies or A Primer on Biomaterials for English Majors. Hopefully I’ll know a little more about hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, tissue scaffolds, biosensors and smart polymers the next time you hear from me. My grandfather would have been proud.

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Stacey Johnson

Stacey Johnson

For almost 20 years, Stacey has been providing strategic communications counsel to government, corporate, technology and health organizations. Prior to that, Stacey was at the CTV Television Network, first as a researcher, then as a story producer for “Goldhawk Fights Back,” a special ombudsman segment that aired weekly on the National News and Canada AM. Before joining CCRM as the Director, Communications and Marketing, Stacey was the Director of Communications for the Canadian Arthritis Network. Stacey is editor of Signals. You can follow Stacey on Twitter @msstaceyerin.