Sowmya Viswanathan


Profile:  Associate Director, Cell Therapy Program, University Health Network

Department: Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, University of Toronto

Research Interests:

Dr. Viswanathan is focused on translational research, which especially for the emerging field of cell-based therapies requires an integrated understanding of preclinical studies, clinical investigations, cell manufacturing and regulatory compliance.  As the Associate Director of the Cell Therapy Program at the University Health Network, Dr. Viswanathan oversees all of these aspects, and is responsible for translating over 10 cell-based research projects into Health Canada/FDA-approved clinical investigations.  She leads a multidisciplinary team of project officers, clinical fellows, clinical nurses and Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP)-skilled technicians who work in a state-of-the-art GMP-compliant cell manufacturing facility.  She is currently working on over 10 clinical investigations, both investigator- and industry-led ranging from osteoarthritis, cardiac disease, immunotherapy treatments for cancers, lysosomal storage disorders to acute kidney failure.

Dr. Viswanathan is involved in the design and development of a new GMP-compliant cell manufacturing facility at MaRS II.  Dr. Viswanathan regularly serves as a national regulatory and cell manufacturing consultant for projects across Canada, and is a clinical translation and regulatory consultant for the Center for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine.  Dr. Viswanathan is a founding member, and chair of the Manufacturing Committee of a network of Pan-Canadian cell manufacturing facilities called CellCAN, and is leading efforts to fund this initiative.

Dr. Viswanathan’s specific research interests include understanding the biology of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) in modulating inflammatory responses in the context of osteoarthritis (OA), and translating these findings into clinical investigations.  In collaboration with the Arthritis Program at the Toronto Western Hospital, Dr. Viswanatha is a co-PI on a proposed first Canadian clinical trial to use autologous MSCS to treat mid-to-late stage knee OA patients.

Dr. Viswanathan is also interested in understanding how understanding how cell-based therapies, especially MSC products fit into the current treatment landscape, an important exercise in mapping clinical adoption and reimbursement strategies.

PubMed Research Publications