Sean P. Palecek, PHD

Position title: Professor, Chemical & Biological Engineering / Biomedical Engineering


Phone: 608-262-8931

Organ System/Disease Focus:
Cardiac. Epithelial. Vascular Endothelial
Aligned Research Focus:
Pluripotent stem cell self-renewal and differentiation; Pluripotent stem cell mechanotransduction; Design of stem cell culture and differentiation systems
Sean Palecek headshot


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Research Description:

Our lab studies how mechanical forces and cell-cell contact integrate with soluble factor and matrix signaling to regulate human embryonic stem cell (hESC) self-renewal and differentiation fate choices.

We design culture systems to apply uniform levels of desired mechanical strain to homogeneous colonies and assess effects on cellular signaling and the associated phenotypes. Current systems of interest include epithelial and cardiac differentiation.

We also use this information to design protocols for scaling up cultures of self-renewing hESCs and to develop methods that improve the yield of undifferentiated hESCs following cryopreservation.

Selected References:
  • Azarin SM, Lian X, Larson EA, Popelka HM, de Pablo JJ, Palecek SP. Modulation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling in human embryonic stem cells using a 3-D microwell array. Biomaterials. 2012 Mar;33(7):2041-9. Epub 2011 Dec 15.
  • Mohr JC, Zhang J, Azarin SM, Soerens AG, de Pablo JJ, Thomson JA, Lyons GE, Palecek SP, Kamp TJ. The microwell control of embryoid body size in order to regulate cardiac differentiation of human embryonic stem cells. Biomaterials. 2010 Mar;31(7):1885-93. Epub 2009 Nov 28.
  • Nie Y, Bergendahl V, Hei DJ, Jones JM, Palecek SP.Scalable culture and cryopreservation of human embryonic stem cells on microcarriers. Biotechnol Prog. 2009 Jan-Feb;25(1):20-31.
  • Metallo CM, Vodyanik MA, de Pablo JJ, Slukvin II,Palecek SP. The response of human embryonic stem cell-derived endothelial cells to shear stress. Biotechnol Bioeng. 2008 Jul 1;100(4):830-7.
  • Metallo CM, Ji L, de Pablo JJ, Palecek SP.Retinoic acid and bone morphogenetic protein signaling synergize to efficiently direct epithelial differentiation of human embryonic stem cells. Stem Cells. 2008 Feb;26(2):372-80. Epub 2007 Oct 25.