Summer research experiences at the Santerre Lab

Over the past summer, the Santerre Lab welcomed a number of budding researchers through the IBBME Undergraduate Summer Research Program (USRP). Each with a unique project and research focus, these students developed both technical and research skills under the supervision of graduate students within the lab. Additionally, they had the opportunity to participate in several workshops, career talks and events gaining valuable exposure to cutting-edge, collaborative research at the University of Toronto.

Here are some brief excerpts of their experiences:

Vienna Mazzoli

Spending my summer working with the Santerre Lab has been a valuable and enjoyable experience. My project was focused on characterizing adipose tissue-derived microvascular endothelial cells and evaluating their suitability for use in vascular tissue engineering applications. Through this experience, I learned a number of lab techniques that will definitely be useful in any future lab projects I am involved in. In addition, I learned about the work that goes into planning a project and the importance of critical thinking in analyzing results and troubleshooting. To be able to see my project through over the summer was such a rewarding experience. I am truly thankful to Dr. Santerre for this opportunity, to my supervisor, Jeremy, and the rest of the lab members for their assistance and support.

Emma Jameson

Working in the Santerre Lab this past summer has been a thoroughly rewarding experience. My project was focused on studying the effect that combinations of some common growth factors have on the cells primarily involved in angiogenesis. While I was able to learn technical skills such as cell culture and performing some biological assays, I learnt just as much, if not more in project planning and experimental troubleshooting. Most importantly, I take away the ability to string together a scientific story from experimental data which I now see really forms the foundation of scientific inquiry. For all their help and support this summer, I would like to thank everyone in the Santerre Lab. 

Patrick Dong Min Chang

Being a part of the Santerre Lab this summer was memorable and full of countless learning experiences, where I greatly expanded my knowledge of biomedical research and developed my skills as a scientist. My summer project revolved around formulating D-PHI polyurethane nanoparticles using the solvent displacement method, where I aimed to optimize the synthesis parameters and understand the particle generation mechanisms. I learned a great deal about the therapeutic potential of nanoparticles, where it was particularly interesting to relate chemical engineering knowledge, in their application as drug delivery vehicles and learn new laboratory techniques. Moreover, it was great to be in a friendly learning environment where asking questions was encouraged. I would like to thank Professor Santerre for providing me a thoroughly enriching first research experience, my postdoc supervisor Suja for her patience and guidance, as well as the other lab members and fellow summer students for their support.

George Rumman

My interest in research spurs from the ability it affords to break up a large body of scientific uncertainty into smaller, more manageable questions. This summer at the Santerre Lab I was able to do just that. During my time here, I was exposed to a wide variety of cutting-edge research techniques, expert scientists, and innovative research. Over the summer, I worked on developing a durable, biocompatible surgical adhesive for craniomaxillofacial fracture fixation that has the potential to replace conventional titanium plate and screw fixation systems. Beyond the science, the Santerre Lab allowed me to meet new people and make life-long friends. I truly believe programs like the summer research program at the Santerre Lab may someday pave the way for novel discoveries and scientific advancements.

Yizhou Chen

My time with the Santerre Lab during the summer was a pleasant and rewarding experience. My project was about seeding adipose stromal cells (ASC) and ASC-derived vascular smooth muscle cells (ASC-VSMC) on electrospun degradable polar/hydrophobic/polar (D-PHI) polyurethane nanofibrous scaffolds. This study served as a pilot investigation for using such scaffolds for small-diameter tissue-engineered vascular grafts (TEVG). Thanks to this project, I gained valuable experience in polymer synthesis, tissue culture, and protocol development. I want to thank Dr Santerre, my graduate supervisor Xiaoqing, and all other members for being so helpful and supportive throughout my training.

The USRP is open to all Canadian undergraduate students pursuing studies in the fields of engineering, science, medicine and dentistry. For more information on the program and details on the application process please refer to the following page,

We look forward to welcoming new applicants for the summer of 2019!