Randolph Ashton

Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering
(608) 316-4312



Ph.D. University of Iowa

Research Focus:

Engineering neural stem cell derivation, differentiation, and tissue morphogenesis to create novel methodologies for investigating neurological disorders and clinically translating regenerative cell therapies.

Research Strength:

Development, Plasticity, and Repair; Neurobiology of Disease

Research Description:

Human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC) technology has advanced to the point where derivation of several therapeutic cell types can be achieved using 'bench-top' protocols; however, clinical translation requires protocols that can be scaled-up to rapidly and efficiently generate distinct cell phenotypes. Additionally, therapeutic applications remain limited by a lack of methodologies for in vitro tissue formation, which entails generating cell aggregates containing discrete spatial domains of diverse cellular phenotypes in biomimetic orientations.

Our research aims to overcome this limitation by elucidating how factors of the cellular microenvironment work synergistically to regulate hPSC fate and utilizing this information to rationally engineer materials and methods for generating higher-order tissue structures in vitro that accurately recapitulate human anatomy and physiology.

Although we are broadly interested in generating numerous tissues within the human body, our research is presently focused on in vitro engineering of tissues representative of the human central nervous system and vasculature. Results from this research could yield humanized tissue platforms that could serve as invaluable in vitro models for drug discovery and investigating neurodegenerative diseases, e.g. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Spinal Muscular Atrophy, and as a template for engineering implantable tissues.

Selected Publications: