Prof. Randolph Ashton

Position title: Brain MAPs Principal Investigator


Phone: (608) 316-4312

Room 4165
330 North Orchard Street
Madison WI 53715

Research Description

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.


Postdoctoral Fellow 2007 – 2011  University of California Berkeley

PhD (Chemical Engineering) 2002 – 2007 Troy, New York, Advisor: Prof. Ravi S. Kane

BS (Chemical Engineering) 1999 – 2002 Hampton, Virginia



ES Lippmann, MC Estevez-Silva, RS Ashton (2015) Chemically defined differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells to hindbrain and spinal cord neural stem cells with defined regional identities Protocol Exchange [doi:10.1038/protex.2015.076]

Harkness. T., McNulty, J.D., Prestil, R., Seymour, S.K., Klann, T., Murrell, M., Ashton, R. S. and Saha, K. (2015) High-content imaging with micropatterned multiwell plates reveals influence of cell geometry and cytoskeleton on chromatin dynamics Biotechnology Journal. Epub. [PMID: 26097126]

ES Lippmann, CE Williams, DA Ruhl, MC Estevez-Silva, ER Chapman, JJ Coon, RS Ashton (2015) Deterministic HOX patterning in human pluripotent stem cell-derived neuroectoderm Stem Cell Reports, 4(4): 632-44

Knight GT, Sha J, Ashton RS (2015) Chemical Communications, 51(25): 5238-5241 Micropatterned, clickable culture substrates enable in situ spatiotemporal control of human PSC-derived neural tissue morphology  

Knight GT, Klann T, McNulty JS, Ashton RS (2014) Fabricating Complex Culture Substrates Using Robotic Microcontact Printing (R-µCP) and Sequential Nucleophilic Substitution  J Vis Exp (92): e52186

McNulty JD, Klann T, Sha J, Salick M, Knight GT, Turng L, Ashton RS (2014) High-precision robotic microcontact printing (R-µCP) utilizing a vision guide selectively compliant articulated robotic arm Lab Chip, 14(11): 1923-30

Lippmann ES, Estevez-Silva MC, Ashton RS (2014) Defined human pluripotent stem cell culture enables highly efficient neuroepithelium derivation independent of small molecule inhibitors Stem Cells, 32(4): 1032-42

Multivalent sonic hedgehog enhances differentiation of human embryonic stem cells into dopaminergic and GABAergic neuronsVazin T, Ashton RS, Conway A, Rode N, Lee SM, Bravo V, Healy KE, Kane R, Schaffer DV (2014) Biomaterials, 35(3): 941-8

Sequential nucleophilic substitutions permit orthogonal click functionalization of multicomponent PEG brushesSha J, Lippmann ES, McNulty J, Ma Y, Ashton RS (2013) Biomacromolecules, 14(9): 3294-303

Astrocytes regulate adult hippocampal neurogenesis through ephrin-B signalingAshton RS, Nat Neurosci, Conway A, Pangakar C, Bergen J, Lim K, Shah P, Bissell M, Schaffer DV (2012) Nat Neurosci, 15(10): 1399-406

Molecular characterization of multivalent bioconjugates by size-exclusion chromatography with multiangle laser light scatteringPollock JF, Ashton RS, Rode NA, Schaffer DV, Healy KE (2012) Bioconjugate Chem, 23(9): 1794-801

Progress and prospects in stem cell engineeringAshton RS, Keung AJ, Peltier J, Schaffer DV (2011) Annual Rev Chem Biomol Eng, 2: 479-502

The influence of hydrogel modulus on the proliferation and differentiation of encapsulated neural stem cellsBanerjee, A., Arha, M., Choudhary, S., Ashton, R.S., Bhatia, S.R., Schaffer, D.V., Kane, R.S. (2009) Biomaterials, 27: 4695-99

Multivalency of sonic hedgehog conjugated to linear polymer chains modulates protein potencyWall ST, Saha KS, Ashton RS, Kim K, Schaffer DV, Healy KE (2008) Bioconjugate Chem. 19: 306-12

Scaffolds based on degradable alginate hydrogels and poly(lactide-co-glycolide) microspheres for stem cell cultureAshton RS, Banerjee A, Punyani S, Schaffer DV, Kane RS (2007) Biomaterials, 28: 5518-25

High-throughput screening of gene function in stem cells using clonal microarrays Ashton RS, Peltier J, Fasano CA, O’Neill A, Leonard J, Temple S, Schaffer DV, Kane RS (2007) Stem Cells, 25: 2928-35

Raftlike polyvalent inhibitors of anthrax toxin: modulating inhibitory potency by formation of lipid microdomainsRai PR, Saraph A, Ashton R, Poon V, Mogridge J, Kane RS (2007) Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 46: 2207-09

Thiol-mediated anchoring of ligands to self-assembled monolayers for studies of biospecific interactionsGujraty KV, Ashton R, Bethi SR, Kate S, Faulkner CJ, Jennings GK, Kane RS (2006) Langmuir 22:10157-62

Microfluidic separation of DNAAshton R, Padala C, and Kane RS (2003) Curr Opin Biotechnol, 14: 497-504