Our goal is to understand, model, and recapitulate in vitro the instructive signals utilized by human embryos to pattern tissue-specific differentiation of pluripotent stem cells, and apply this knowledge towards the rational design of tissue engineered scaffolds and other regenerative therapeutic strategies. Currently, we primarily focus on generating tissues and therapies for the central nervous system.

Recent Publications

Harkness. T., McNulty, J.D., Prestil, R., Seymour, S.K., Klann, T., Murrell, M., Ashton, R. S. and Saha, K. (2015)
Biotechnology Journal. doi: 10.1002/biot.201400756
ES Lippmann, CE Williams, DA Ruhl, MC Estevez-Silva, ER Chapman, JJ Coon, RS Ashton (2015)
Stem Cell Reports, 4(4): 632-44

Knight GT, Sha J, Ashton RS (2015)
Chemical Communications, 51(25): 5238-5241

Saraswathy M, Knight GT, Pilla S, Ashton RS, Gong S (2015) 
Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces 126: 590-97

  • Science Photo
  • Science Photo
  • Science Photo
  • Photo of Cardiomyocyte Bucky
  • Photo of Neural Rosette
  • Photo of Micropatterned Molecules
  • Photo showing E6 Method
  • Photo demonstrating a Reaction
  • Link to YouTube Video


June – July 2015
Congratulations to Gavin T. Knight for successfully completing his Ph.D. candidacy exam!

In collaboration with Prof. Krishanu Saha and Michael Murrell, Ty Harkness and Jason McNulty publish an article on “High-content imaging with micropatterned multiwell plates reveals influence of cell geometry and cytoskeleton on chromatin dynamics” in Biotechnology Journal.

Randolph Ashton delivers a talk on “From Niche to Tissue: Engineering Neural Stem Cell Derivation, Differentiation, and Tissue Morphogenesis” at the 2015 Gordon Research Conference on Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering in Girona, Spain.

Randolph Ashton delivers a talk on “Engineering Region-specific Cells and Organotypic Tissues of the Central Nervous System” at the International Society for Stem Cell Research’s 2015 Annual Meeting in Stockholm, Sweden.

March - April 2015
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awards a team of research labs, lead by Prof. William Murphy and including the Ashton lab, $6 million to establish the Human Models for Analysis of Pathways (H-MAPs) Center at UW-Madison. The Ashton lab will use $1.18 million of that funding to develop novel in vitro models of the human central nervous system. ( UW–Madison announcement, Wisconsin Institute for Discovery announcement)