Randolph Ashton, PhD
Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering
PhD, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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.
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.