Heather Sheardown

Heather Sheardown

Professor, Chemical Engineering; Canada Research Chair in Ophthalmic Biomaterials and Drug Delivery

Canada’s population is aging. Heather Sheardown knows the importance of embracing this change, and its associated health challenges.

Sheardown, a Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Canada Research Chair in Ophthalmic Biomaterials and Drug Delivery, has spent her career developing ocular health technologies and related drugs that will improve the quality of life for millions of people, especially older adults, living with ocular conditions and vision loss.

“Right now, drugs are delivered to the eye using an eye drop which results in a 95% loss of ingredients in the first five minutes.”

Sheardown’s research will change this statistic. Her research group, 20/20 NSERC Ophthalmic Materials Research Network, has designed special contact lenses and better eye drops that prolongs drug exposure and assists in drug delivery.

Currently, patients with ocular diseases such as, age-related macular degeneration, undergo a painful routine of having drugs injected into the eyes once a month. “There are people who say they would rather go blind than have to put a needle in their eye once a month.” To address this, Sheardown is creating an injection method that lasts for six months, up to a year.

Sheardown says her research outcomes would not be possible without the contributions from her students. “My students have energy, enthusiasm and they’re hungry. They want things to happen.” Sheardown’s current research group, C20/20, continues to develop new ocular health technologies.

She hopes she can be a role model but she also encourages her students to follow their own path. “I give them flexibility for the path they want to go on. If they have ownership of the project they are more productive, and more engaged.”

“My students have energy, enthusiasm and they’re hungry. They want things to happen.”

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