Sean P. Palecek, PHD

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


Phone: 608-262-8931

Organ System/Disease Focus:
Cardiovascular, neurovascular
Aligned Research Focus:
Pluripotent stem cell culture and differentiation, stem cell biomanufacturing


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Research Description:

Our lab strives to develop simple and efficient processes to differentiate human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) to a variety of cell types.  We focus on robust, cost-effective, and scalable processes to accelerate implementation of hPSCs in clinical and in vitro applications.  We study how stem cells make fate choices based on microenvironmental cues to activate developmental programs then use that information to design processes to guide differentiation.

We have developed processes to differentiate hPSCs to a variety of cardiovascular cell types, including cardiomyocytes, epicardial cells, endothelial cells, fibroblasts, and smooth muscle cells.  We use these cells to better understand cardiovascular development and disease, and are scaling manufacturing of cardiac cells and tissues to advance heart regenerative therapies.  We have also developed hPSC-derived neurovascular models comprised of brain microvascular endothelial cells, pericytes, astrocytes, and neurons to model the blood-brain barrier and identify novel therapeutic approaches to treat neurodegenerative diseases.

Selected References:
  • Floy ME, Givens SE, Matthys OB, Mateyka TD, Kerr CM, Steinberg AB, Silva AC, Zhang J, Mei Y, Ogle BM, McDevitt TC, Kamp TJ, Palecek SP.  2021.  Developmental lineage of human pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiac fibroblasts affects their functional phenotype.  FASEB J.  35:e21799.
  • Jin G, Floy ME, Simmons AD, Arthur MM, Palecek SP.  2021.  Spatial stem cell fate engineering via facile morphogen localization.  Adv. Healthc. Mater.  29:e2100995.
  • Floy ME, Dunn KK, Mateyka TD, Reichardt IM, Steinberg AB, Palecek SP.  2022.  Direct coculture of human pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiac progenitor cells with epicardial cell increases cardiomyocyte proliferation and reduces sarcomere organization.  J. Mol. Cell Cardiol.  162:144-157.
  • Bao X, Lian X, Hacker TA, Schmuck EG, Qian T, Bhute VJ, Han T, Shi M, Drowley L, Plowright A, Wang QD, Goumans MJ, Palecek SP.  2016.  Long-term self-renewing human epicardial cells generated from pluripotent stem cells under defined conditions.  Nature Biomedical Engineering.  1:0003.
  • Gastfriend BD, Nishihara H, Canfield SG, Foreman KL, Engelhardt B, Palecek SP*, Shusta EV*.  2021.  Wnt signaling mediates acquisition of blood-brain barrier properties in naïve endothelium derived from human pluripotent stem cells.  Elife.  10:e70992.