Dr. Willerth is a Full Professor and Canada Research Chair of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Victoria where she has dual appointments in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Division of Medical Sciences. She completed her National Institutes of Health sponsored postdoctoral work at the University of California-Berkeley after receiving her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Washington University. Her undergraduate degrees were in Biology and Chemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She runs an active research group whose focus is developing innovative methods of engineering tissues. Two of her main areas of interest include 3D bioprinting neural tissues using induced pluripotent stem cells for drug screening applications and directly reprogramming somatic cells into neural tissues.
She currently holds a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Innovation to Commercialization Award for translating her work developing a novel neurobioink for printing stem cell-derived neural tissues. Other sources of funding for her work include the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council, Innovate B.C., and the Alzheimer’s Association. She has given over 50 invited talks, including presenting at the 2018 Till and McCulloch meeting, the University of California-Los Angeles, and as part of the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering Distinguished Lecture series at Purdue University. She directs both the Centre for Biomedical Research and the Biomedical Engineering undergraduate program at the University of Victoria.
She is an active member of the steering committee of the B.C. Regenerative Medicine Initiative and staff scientist at Creative Destruction Lab. She also served as the President of the Canadian Biomaterials Society from 2017-2018. She spent Fall of 2016 on sabbatical at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery supported by the International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries International Travel Award where she wrote her book “Engineering neural tissue using stem cells” published by Academic Press. Her honors include being named the 2018 REACH award winner for Excellence in Undergraduate Research-inspired Teaching, a Woman of Innovation in 2017, one of the 2015 Young Innovators in Cellular and Biological Engineering and a “Star in Global Health” by Grand Challenges Canada in 2014.
For an up-to-date list of publications by Dr. Willerth, please see Google Scholar.