University of Wisconsin-Madison


Human umbilical vein endothelial cell (HUVEC) tubule morphogenesis (left) or monolayer formation (right) determined by hydrogel stiffness and adhesion ligand density.

Image provided by Eric H. Nguyen.


Understanding the stem cell microenvironment

The microenvironment plays a critical role in stem cell behaviors ranging from cell adhesion to lineage-specific differentiation. However, the influence of the microenvironment on stem cell behavior is often difficult to study in traditional cell culture, as it is often complex and poorly defined. We create materials that control the stem cell microenvironment and ask specific questions about how stem cells are influenced by biological molecules, mechanical stiffness, and the proximity of other cells. Our experiments are performed in array-based formats that allow for hundreds of conditions to be explored simultaneously, thereby accelerating scientific discovery. 


hESC_colony_on_PEG_hydrogel.jpgFigure 1: hESCs adhered to PEG hydrogel substrates demonstrate cell organization with a high degree of polarity when cultured in 2D ( Red, Actin; Green, Vinculin; Blue, Nucleus)