Principal Investigator

Jeffrey R. Millman, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Engineering

jmillman [at] wustl [dot] edu

Dr. Millman received his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2011. He completed his postdoctoral research fellowship at Harvard University in 2015, after which he joined the faculty at Washington University School of Medicine. He is currently an Associate Professor with tenure in the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Lipid Research.

Faculty

Nathaniel Hogrebe, Ph.D.

Instructor in Medicine

nhogrebe [at] wustl [dot] edu

Dr. Nathaniel Hogrebe joined the Department of Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Lipid Research as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in 2016 and has continued on as a research track Instructor in February 2023.

Dr. Hogrebe grew up in the St. Louis, Missouri area. He moved to Ohio to continue his education, earning his bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Dayton in 2011 and a PhD in Biomedical Engineering at The Ohio State University in 2016. In the fall of 2016, he joined the Millman Lab at Washington University in St. Louis to continue his academic training as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, where he focused on generating stem cell-derived β (SC-β) cells for the treatment of insulin-dependent diabetes.

Building off of his graduate work, Dr. Hogrebe was able to further improve the protocol for differentiating these SC-β cells during his postdoc by harnessing signaling pathways influenced by the insoluble culture microenvironment to enhance lineage specification and β cell function. Transplantation of these SC-β cells rapidly reverses diabetes in mice, demonstrating the potential of these cells to provide a functional cure for type 1 diabetic patients. His current research focuses on further developing cell based-therapies for the treatment of insulin-dependent diabetes. These areas of interest include improving SC-β cell identity, optimizing stem cell-derived islet composition, and developing immune-protection strategies for these cells after transplantation.

Laboratory Manager

Sarah Gale, M.A.

Laboratory Manager

segale [at] wustl [dot] edu

Sarah was born and raised in St. Louis, MO.  She earned her B.S. in Biology from Benedictine College, Atchison, KS.  Upon graduation, Sarah returned to St. Louis and earned an M.A. in Biology from Washington University.  For 19 years, Sarah worked in the lab of Dan Ory and Jean Schaffer. Here she studied the disease mechanisms involved in cholesterol trafficking and cardiovascular disease and contributed to the publication of over 20 manuscripts.  Sarah Joined the Millman lab in 2020 as laboratory manager.  When not in lab, Sarah enjoys running, traveling, spending time with her husband and three children, and coaching soccer.

Grant Assistant

Erika Brown, B.J.

Grant Assistant

berika [at] wustl [dot] edu

Erika grew up in Nebraska. She received her Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2015. She moved to St. Louis in 2019 and joined the Millman Lab as a Grant Assistant in November 2022. Erika enjoys traveling, reading, board games, and hanging out with her husband and their rescue dog, Indiana Bones.

Fellows

Matthew Ishahak, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

mishahak [at] email [dot] wustl [dot] edu

Biography

Matthew was born and raised in South Florida. He competed the BS/MS program in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Miami in 2015 and then completed his PhD under the mentorship of Dr. Ashu Agarwal. His doctoral research focused on combining microfluidics and tissue engineering to develop organ-on-chip devices with the goal of developing new models of human organ function to improve methods for studying diseases. His work developing a glomerulus-on-chip was funded by a National Research Service Award Predoctoral Fellowship (F31) from the National Institutes of Health National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Additionally, Matthew co-founded a Bio-Vitro, a startup aimed at commercializing the organ-on-chip technology he helped developed. In the summer of 2020, Matthew joined the Millman Lab with the goal of applying his skills toward engineering stem cell-derived ß-cells.

Research Interests

Static cell culture systems and animal models are sometimes insufficient to recreate the complex, dynamic processes of human physiology and disease progression. However, the integration of microfluidics and tissue engineering provides an avenue to develop dynamic in-vitro systems that model the function of human organs. Matthew’s current research focuses on incorporating the functional, stem cell-derived ß-cells developed by his mentor, Dr. Jeffrey Millman, into microfluidic systems to improve maturation and model the dynamic pathophysiology of diabetes. His other research interests include engineering kidney organoids, which can be combined with stem cell-derived ß-cells to potentially model diabetic kidney disease.

Members

Daniel Veronese Paniagua, B.S.

Doctoral Student

dveronese-paniagua [at] wustl [dot] edu

Danny received his B.A from Cornell University in May 2017 where he studied biology with a concentration in ecology and evolutionary biology. He then worked as a research technician in Dr. Blair Madison’s lab where he focused on the role of microRNA’s, and their targets, on the development and tumorigenesis of colorectal cancer. Danny joined the Millman Lab in March 2020 and is a student in the Developmental, Regenerative, and Stem Cell Biology Program at WashU. He is interested in finding molecular and genetic targets to improve stem cell therapies for Type 1 Diabetes. When not in lab, Danny likes to practice Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Latin dance, hang out with friends, and try new food places in the St. Louis area!

Marlie Maestas, B.S.

Doctoral Student

m.maestas [at] wustl [dot] edu

Marlie received her B.S. in Biology from New Mexico State University. In 2021, she joined the millman lab as a doctoral student in developmental, regenerative, stem cell biology. Marlie is interested in leveraging stem cell technology to improve treatment for diabetes. When not in lab, Marlie enjoys traveling, reading, and hiking.

Kameron Bradley, M.S.

Doctoral Student

kameronb [at] wustl [dot] edu

Kameron received his B.Eng. in Chemical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 2019. He completed his M.S. in Biomedical Engineering here at Washington University in St. Louis, and joined the Millman Lab in 2022 as a doctoral student in the Biomedical Engineering Program. Kameron is interested in engineering stem cells that can better withstand transplantation for diabetes treatment. Outside of lab, he enjoys golf and basketball.

Ed Sanchez Castro, M.S.

Doctoral Student

e.sanchezcastro [at] wustl [dot] edu

Ed, a native of Lima, Peru, has always been driven by his personal experience with type 1 diabetes, diagnosed at the age of 12. This life-changing event ignited his passion for finding a cure and spreading awareness about the disease. In 2019, he earned his Bachelor of Science in Genetics & Biotechnology from the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos. Building upon his knowledge and desire to make a difference, Ed pursued a Master’s in Health Policies from the same university, which he completed in 2022.

In 2023, Ed joined the Millman Lab as a Ph.D. student in developmental, regenerative, and stem cell biology. His primary focus is enhancing protocols to obtain a larger and more efficient supply of insulin-producing cells for replacement therapies to cure diabetes.

Besides lab, Ed enjoys running, listening to symphonies, and watching anime series.

Mira Shunkarova, M.D.

Research Assistant

meruyert [at] wustl [dot] edu

Mira is from Kazakhstan. She received her medical degree from Kazakh National Medical University in 2015. Since then she practiced as a general surgeon in Kazakhstan. After moving to the U.S., she joined the Millman Lab as a Research Assistant in 2023. Outside of lab, she enjoys hiking, playing tennis, and cooking.

Allison Kelley, B.S.

Research Technician

allisonk [at] wustl [dot] edu

Allison was born and raised in St. Louis, MO. She received her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Miami in 2023 and joined the Millman Lab following graduation. In her free time, Allison enjoys running, reading, and spending time with friends, family, and her dog. She hopes to pursue graduate school in the future. 

Tai Le, B.S.

Research Technician

le.t [at] wustl [dot] edu

Tai joined the Millman lab shortly after receiving his B.S. in Cell and Molecular Biology from Missouri State University in 2024. He plans on pursuing an M.D./Ph.D. in the future. Outside of lab, Tai enjoys cooking, writing, and reading anything relating to literature and philosophy.   

Camryn Moore

U-STAR Summer Scholar

camryn [at] wustl [dot] edu

Camryn was born and raised in St. Louis. She is a rising sophomore at WashU intending to major in Biology on the genomics and computational track and has a second major in Spanish. After undergrad, she wants to go to med school and pursue an M.D. or M.D.-Ph.D. She joined the Millman Lab through the MARC U-STAR Summer Scholars program in 2023. This is her first research experience and she’s really excited to learn about research here. Outside of the lab, she enjoys yoga, singing, songwriting, and playing guitar and piano.

Will Kodner

High School Trainee

kwill [at] wustl [dot] edu

Will is going to be a senior at Ladue Horton Watkins High School. He will be in the lab for the summer of 2024. In his free time, Will enjoys playing saxophone, building Lego, and playing golf.

Recent Alumni

Cameron Banks, B.S.

Cameron completed his research period in August 2023. He went on to a Ph.D. program at the University of Minnesota where he will study within the Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology (MICaB) program. He is also a recipient of the University of Minnesota Medical School Graduate Fellowship.

Mason Schmidt, B.S.

Mason completed his post-baccalaureate research program in June 2023. He went on to a Ph.D. program at Duke where he will study within the Developmental and Stem Cell Biology program. Mason is also a recipient of an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) fellowship.

Punn Augsornworawat, Ph.D.

Punn graduated with a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis in 2023 after completing his dissertation in the Millman lab on single-cell sequencing. He went on to become Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand.

Chandler Est, Ph.D.

Chandler completed his research period in April 2023. He accepted a position at Bayer as a Protein Scientist where he’ll be working on recombinant protein expression, purification, and characterization.

Leonardo Velazco-Cruz, Ph.D.

Leonardo graduated with a PhD. from the ​Developmental, Regenerative and Stem Cell Biology (DRSCB) program in The Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences (DBBS). He went on to work as a scientist at Sana Biotechnology. 

Kristina Maxwell, Ph.D.

Kristina graduated with a PhD. in Biomedical Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis and went on to work at Vertex Pharmaceuticals. She worked in the Millman Lab as a PhD student, developing stem cell technologies to treat and model diabetes using SC-β cells. 

Michelle Kim, B.A.

Michelle graduated with a degree in Neuroscience at Washington University in St. Louis. She joined the Millman Lab as an undergraduate in 2017. She went on to pursue medical school at Duke University.

Erica Marquez, B.S.

Erica led the lentiviral production team in the Millman laboratory. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Biomedical Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis.

Former Members

Ella Hanson. Completed research period in 2024.

Maggie Bui. Completed research period in 2024.

Alexa Wagner. Completed research period in 2024. Went on to a position in agriculture biotechnology.

Diana Hernandez. Completed research period in 2023. Went on to a position at Bayer.

Veronia Lee. Completed research period in 2023. Went on to continue B.S. program at Washington University.

Aining Fan. Graduated with M.S. in 2023. Went on to Ph.D. program at UCSD.

Julia Miller. Completed research period in 2021. Went on to work for the University of Washington.

Shreya Battu. Completed research period in 2020. Went on to continue B.S. program at Washington University.

Madeleine Goedegebuure. Graduated with B.S. in 2020. Went on to a Ph.D. program at Northwestern University.

Arvind Srivatsava. Graduated with M.S. in 2019. Went on to a Ph.D. program at University of Rochester.

Anurima Sharma. Graduated with B.S. in 2018. Went on to enter a M.S. program at Cornell Tech.

Mason Simmons. Completed research period in 2018. Went on to continue B.S. program at Washington University.

Jiwon Song. Completed post-bacc research in 2017. Went on to a Ph.D. program at UT Southwestern.

Stefanie Shahan. Graduated with M.S. in 2017. Went on to work at Celgene

Emmy Mai. Completed summer NIH NIDDK fellowship in 2017. Went on to continue M.D. program at St. Louis University.

Lisa Gutgesell. Completed summer Amgen Scholarship in 2017. Went on to complete B.S. from Missouri S&T and enter Ph.D. program at University of Illinois at Chicago

Eli Silvert. Completed summer Amgen fellowship in 2018. Went on to continue B.S. program at Brown University.