Corinne Hoesli, ing. jr, PhD
Assistant Professor in Chemical Engineering
Dr Corinne Hoesli is an Assistant Professor in Chemical Engineering at McGill
University, Montreal, QC, Canada. She is a biochemical engineer with expertise in bioprocess
development, high throughput screening and stem cell culture optimization applied to diabetes
cellular therapy. She obtained undergraduate degrees in Biochemistry and Chemical Engineering in
2003 at the University of Ottawa. She then moved to Vancouver to complete a PhD in Chemical and
Biological engineering at the University of British Columbia in the laboratory of Dr James Piret.
Her doctoral work focused on bioprocess development for the cell-based treatment of diabetes. She
next pursued postdoctoral training in the bioengineering laboratories of Dr Alain Garnier and Dr
Gaétan Laroche, where she designed a live cell imaging system to study the effect of biomimetic
molecules on vascular regeneration. She became the head of the Stem Cell Bioprocessing Laboratory
at McGill in August 2014. Her laboratory seeks to combine pancreatic cell encapsulation approaches
and vascular biomaterials to overcome the limitations of islet transplantation to treat diabetes.
She has received numerous awards recognizing her leadership in cell culture engineering, including
the Martin Sinacore Outstanding Young Investigator Award conferred by Engineering Conferences
International and Biogen Idec.
Selected Scientific Contributions
Click here for PubMed listing
Islet transplantation has emerged as a novel long-term treatment for type 1
diabetes, avoiding daily insulin administration for approximately 3 years in most patients. The
access to this therapeutic option is limited by the amount of islet supply from donors, as well as
the requirement for lifelong immunosuppression to avoid graft rejection. To overcome these limitations,
alternative cell sources and methods to minimize graft rejection are needed. Islet encapsulation relies
on creating a protective barrier around the islets to reduce the access of the immune system to the
graft. Preclinical trials in primates and some trials of encapsulated islet transplantation in humans
have highlighted the lack of consistency in the efficacy of encapsulated islets, even within the same
research group. Professor Hoesli's research interest lie in understanding and overcoming the challenges
of therapeutic cell production to treat diabetes.
Optimizing islet encapsulation methods. Bioprocess engineering is
a discipline that focuses on developing systematic and optimized methods to handle cells and generate
biological products with high consistency. Professor Hoesli applies these engineering principles to
develop more robust and scalable methods to produce and encapsulate therapeutic cells to treat
diabetes. She has developed an emulsion-based method to encapsulate large amounts of islets in a
single batch in less than 30 min, compared to several hours required with typical encapsulation
methods. Moreover, this method can produce hydrogel beads that are less permeable to harmful
antibodies and less immunogenic. This method could improve the outcome of encapsulated islet
Producing islets from stem cells. The broad implementation of
islet encapsulation to treat diabetes would require a 100-fold increased availability of donor cells.
Instead, islets could be produced at clinical scale using pluripotent stem cells. Induced pluripotent
stem cells can be obtained from most cells in the human body. For example, the fibroblasts found in a
simple skin biopsy can be reprogrammed into an embryonic stem cell-like state. These reprogrammed
cells can then be differentiated into pancreatic cells, including insulin-producing cells. Even with
recent improvements in differentiation protocols, the yields of insulin-producing cells remain low.
Professor Hoesli is investigating the effect of different biomaterials on the yield of
insulin-producing cells from induced pluripotent stem cells.
Engineering an artificial pancreas. The lack of oxygen supply
after encapsulated islet transplantation is a major source of islet cell losses. To overcome this
issue, the Hoesli lab is developing a device that would supply nutrients including oxygen to the
cells after transplantation. The short-term goal of this project is to develop and test the device in
the laboratory, where it could serve as an in vitro model to better understand pancreas cell biology.
The long-term goal of this project is to develop a device that could be transplanted to treat