Randolph Ashton, PhD
Position title: Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering
PhD, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery
330 N. Orchard St.
Madison, WI 53715
Lab Website: The Ashton Group
In the Stem Cell Bioprocessing and Regenerative Biomaterials Laboratory, we endeavor to engineer novel materials and methodologies that optimally instruct lineage-specific differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) in a reproducible and scalable manner. Our goal is to understand, model, and recapitulate in vitro the instructive signals utilized by human embryos to pattern tissue-specific differentiation of embryonic stem cells, and apply this knowledge towards the rational design of tissue engineer scaffolds and other regenerative therapeutic strategies. Our research is highly interdisciplinary with topics ranging from novel biomaterials to stem cell biology, and we employs a range of techniques including microfabrication, molecular biology, recombinant protein engineering, synthetic chemistry, and automated live-cell imaging to 1) develop high-throughput screening methods for investigating the quantitative, temporal, and nano-scale qualitative characteristics of cellular microenvironmental factors that regulate stem cell fate and 2) incorporate this knowledge into rational design of scaffolds for generating high-order tissue structures in vitro using hPSCs or their differentiated progeny. We currently specialize in developing regenerative therapies for the central nervous systems; however, we are always seeking collaborations and looking to expand into other systems, especially vascular and muscular tissues.
McNulty JD, Marti-Figueroa C, Seipel F, Plantz JZ, Ellingham T, Duddleston LJL, Goris S, Cox BL, Osswald TA, Turng LS, Ashton RS. (2019). Micro-injection molded, poly(vinyl alcohol)-calcium salt templates for precise customization of 3D hydrogel internal architecture. Acta Biomaterialia, 95:258-268. doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2019.04.050.
Jiwlawat N, Lynch EM, Napiwocki BN, Stempien A, Ashton RS, Kamp TJ, Crone WC, Suzuki M. (2019). Micropatterned substrates with physiological stiffness promote cell maturation and Pompe disease phenotype in human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived skeletal myocytes. Biotechnology and Bioengineering, 116(9):2377-2392. doi: 10.1002/bit.27075.
Chasman D, Iyer N, Fotuhi Siahpirani A, Estevez Silva M, Lippmann E, McIntosh B, Probasco MD, Jiang P, Stewart R, Thomson JA, Ashton RS, Roy S. (2019). Inferring Regulatory Programs Governing Region Specificity of Neuroepithelial Stem Cells during Early Hindbrain and Spinal Cord Development. Cell Systems, 28;9(2):167-186.e12. doi: 10.1016/j.cels.2019.05.012.
Afshar Bakooshli M, Lippmann ES, Mulcahy B, Iyer N, Nguyen CT, Tung K, Stewart BA, van den Dorpel H, Fuehrmann T, Shoichet M, Bigot A, Pegoraro E, Ahn H, Ginsberg H, Zhen M, Ashton RS, Gilbert PM. (2019). A 3D culture model of innervated human skeletal muscle enables studies of the adult neuromuscular junction. Elife, 14;8. pii: e44530. doi: 10.7554/eLife.44530.
Knight GT, Lundin BF, Iyer N, Ashton LM, Sethares WA, Willett RM, Ashton RS. (2018). Engineering induction of singular neural rosette emergence within hPSC-derived tissues. Elife, 29;7. pii: e37549. doi: 10.7554/eLife.37549.
Estevez-Silva MC, Sreeram A, Cuskey S, Fedorchak N, Iyer N, Ashton RS. (2018). Single-injection ex ovo transplantation method for broad spinal cord engraftment of human pluripotent stem cell-derived motor neurons. Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 15;298:16-23. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2018.01.006.
Lemke KA, Aghayee A, Ashton RS. (2017). Deriving, regenerating, and engineering CNS tissues using human pluripotent stem cells. Current Opinions in Biotechnology, 47:36-42. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2017.05.010.
Marti-Figueroa CR, Ashton RS. (2017). The case for applying tissue engineering methodologies to instruct human organoid morphogenesis. Acta Biomaterialia, 54:35-44. doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2017.03.023.
Lippmann ES, Williams CE, Ruhl DA, Estevez-Silva MC, Chapman ER, Coon JJ, Ashton RS. (2015) Deterministic HOX patterning in human pluripotent stem cell-derived neuroectoderm. Stem Cell Reports. 14;4(4):632-44. doi: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2015.02.018.
Harkness T, McNulty JD, Prestil R, Seymour SK, Klann T, Murrell M, Ashton RS, Saha K. (2015) High-content imaging with micropatterned multiwell plates reveals influence of cell geometry and cytoskeleton on chromatin dynamics. Biotechnology Journal. 10(10):1555-67. doi: 10.1002/biot.201400756.
Knight GT, Sha J, Ashton RS. (2015) Micropatterned, clickable culture substrates enable in situ spatiotemporal control of human PSC-derived neural tissue morphology. Chemical Communications. 28;51(25):5238-41. doi: 10.1039/c4cc08665a.
Lippmann ES, Estevez-Silva MC, Ashton RS. (2014) Defined human pluripotent stem cell culture enables highly efficient neuroepithelium derivation without small molecule inhibitors. Stem Cells. 32(4):1032-42. doi: 10.1002/stem.1622.
Vazin T, Ashton RS, Conway A, Rode NA, Lee SM, Bravo V, Healy KE, Kane RS, Schaffer DV. (2014) The effect of multivalent Sonic hedgehog on differentiation of human embryonic stem cells into dopaminergic and GABAergic neurons. Biomaterials. 35(3):941-8. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2013.10.025.