Matthew J. Stebbins

Matthew J. Stebbins

Degree Program: Chemical and Biological Engineering
Faculty Supervisor: Sean Palecek and Eric Shusta
Phone: (608) 265-3502


Current Research

The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is the impermeable network of blood vessels within the brain and is critical to maintain brain homeostasis. Several cell types interface at the BBB to form the neurovascular unit, which together police toxin, ion, and nutrient transport across the barrier. Two important cell types within the neurovascular unit include brain microvascular endothelial cells (BMECs), which line blood vessels and form the physical barrier, and pericytes, which lie adjacent to blood vessels and regulate BMEC phenotype through juxtacrine and paracrine signaling. Coculturing brain pericytes and BMECs in vitro improves BMEC fidelity and in vitro BBB model applicability for BBB drug screening, disease modeling, and BBB developmental mechanisms.

We are investigating a differentiation strategy to generate hPSC-derived pericytes for coculture with a previously developed hPSC-derived BMEC protocol. The goal of this study is to make a complete hPSC-derived model of the neurovascular unit. Our current strategy is to recapitulate brain-pericyte development from neural crest cells. We are currently optimizing neural crest generation from a neuroectoderm differentiation protocol developed by the Ashton group and directing this neural crest towards pericytes. In addition, we are investigating the effect of signaling pathways, specifically secreted by pericytes and other peripheral cells in BBB development, and their effect on our hPSC-derived BMEC model.

Abstract (PDF)

Resume (PDF)





Biochemistry Department
433 Babcock Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1544

Brian Fox, Director