Welcome to the Ashton Lab!
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.