Portrait of Penney Gilbert

Penney Gilbert

Associate Professor & Canada Research Chair, Endogenous Repair

BS (Haverford), PhD (Pennsylvania)

Research Stream: Cell & Tissue Engineering

Laboratory Website:

Email: penney.gilbert@utoronto.ca | Tel: 416 978-2501 | Office: Donnelly Centre, 160 College Street, Room 1116

Main Appointments

  • Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering

Additional Appointments

  • Department of Biochemistry
  • Donnelly Centre for Cellular & Biomolecular Research

Research Interests

The central goal of research in the Gilbert Lab is to harness the power of creative 2D and 3D biomaterial approaches to overcome challenges impeding the effective treatment of skeletal muscle wasting. Muscle atrophy arises from genetic structural defects in muscle fibers (e.g. muscular dystrophy), aging (sarcopenia), disease (cachexia), and physical inactivity (e.g. bed rest, absence of gravity). 

Currently there are no clinical approaches to undo muscle atrophy in these disease settings. Notably, skeletal muscle has extensive regenerative potential, largely due to resident muscle stem cells, whose prospective isolation from murine tissue was recently established. Due to the nascence of the field, relatively little is known about muscle stem cell regulation despite the clear translational potential of this adult stem cell population.

The Gilbert Lab uses interdisciplinary approaches to provide necessary insight into the biochemical and biophysical regulation of muscle stem cells. This knowledge is then applied to (1) the rational design of biomimetic substrates for muscle stem cell expansion in culture to potentiate cell based therapies, (2) in the development of systemically delivered therapeutics aimed at regulating muscle stem cell fate and promoting regeneration within the context of the native tissue and (3) the engineering of replacement skeletal muscle tissue.

By applying bioengineering principles to muscle stem cell biology the Gilbert Lab aims to advance the stem cell biology, bioengineering and regenerative medicine fields. Ultimately, we hope to provide novel therapies for the treatment of skeletal muscle wasting diseases.

Stories & Media


Faces of BME

Katy, a PhD candidate from Penney Gilbert's lab, shares her extracurricular participation outside of her lab work.

Cover image of research gallery of 2019

Research Gallery 2019

  • The mouse skeletal muscle stem cells (green) associate with human skeletal muscle fibres (red) 24 hours after the incorporation of GFP muscle stem cells in 3D human muscle tissue (MEndR).