M.D. Faculty of Medicine, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Mexico City
Ph.D. (Experimental Medicine) Department of Surgery, Div. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, University of British Columbia
Post-Doctoral Fellow (Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery) Department of Surgery, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago IL
Research Scientist, Vancouver Prostate Centre
Honorary Faculty, Faculty of Medicine, UBC
Dr. Claudia Chavez-Munoz joined the Vancouver Prostate Centre as a Research Associate in December 2014. In 2018, she was promoted to Research Scientist and was appointed an Honorary Faculty position by the Faculty of Medicine for teaching the Undergraduate MD program.
Dr. Chavez-Munoz received her medical degree from the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City, followed by clinical training first in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery under the mentorship of Dr. Martin Iglesias and then at Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston MA. Frustrated by the poor wound healing and scarring outcomes she saw, especially in burn patients, she decided to pursue a graduate research degree in the area of burns and wound healing.
In 2006, Dr. Chavez-Munoz started her graduate degree under the supervision of Dr. Aziz Ghahary at UBC. In her PhD work, she identified a protein cluster (SPARC/SFN) released by keratinocytes, which suppresses collagen type I synthesis in fibroblasts, as well as its mechanism of release. The relevance of the study was to potentially use this protein complex as a novel treatment for hypertrophic scars. Dr. Chavez-Munoz also worked on the development and application of a non-rejectable allogeneic skin substitute as a permanent wound coverage for improved scar formation in collaboration with Dr. Steven Boyce from the University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH.
During Dr. Chavez-Munoz’s Post-Doctoral Fellowship (2011) at Northwestern University (Chicago IL), under Dr. Thomas Mustoe and Dr. Robert Galiano, she focused on developing a modular adaptable in vivo bioreactor for skin regeneration. Based on the fact that currently we cannot recreate a complex vascular network, she decided to take advantage of the body and regenerate skin in vivo. She developed an enclosed implantable bioreactor that allowed for the implantation of matrices or decellularized organs or tissues with the controlled perfusion of cells, nutrients, treatments etc. using a micro-fluidic system. This device was successfully patented and sold to the US Army. Dr. Chavez-Munoz expanded her research to muscle regeneration, since many severely burn victims present with deeper injuries, often affecting skeletal muscle. Her research also comprised the use of stem cells as a source of cells to reseed the decellularized organs/tissues, in particular the use of adult-derived stem cells (ASC). Dr. Chavez-Munoz was able to demonstrate the ability of ASC’s transdifferentiation into keratinocyte-like cells, stratifying and forming an epidermis-like structure. This work was granted the New Investigator Award by the Wound Healing Society in 2013. During this time (2011-2013) Dr. Chavez-Munoz also served as a Medical Board Advisor at ATS Biotech Inc.
Dr. Chavez-Munoz has received numerous national and international awards and distinctions, such as Canadian Institutes of Heath Research (CIHR) Master’s award, CIHR PhD Award, CIHR Post-Doctoral Award, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Junior Trainee Award, CONACyT (Sistema Nacional de Investigadores) Level I, VCHRI Rising Star, and UBC Graduate Fellowship Award among others.
Since Dr. Chavez-Munoz joined the Vancouver Prostate Centre she has established protocols of organ decellularization as well as organ reseeding. With Dr. Chavez-Munoz’s and Dr. Alan So’s combined research interests and expertise, they have built a project of growing 3-Dimension patient’s tumour for drug testing, which CIHR has recently funded. Their vision is to create a solid clinical platform for personalized medicine that will improve the outcome of thousands of cancer patients.