Principal Investigator

Jeffrey R. Millman, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Engineering

jmillman [at] wustl [dot] edu

@JeffreyRMillman

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.

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.

Fellows

Nathaniel Hogrebe, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

nhogrebe [at] wustl [dot] edu

Biography

Nathaniel grew up in St. Louis, MO. He moved to Ohio to continue his education, earning his bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Dayton with minors in Biology and Bioengineering. He then completed his PhD in Biomedical Engineering at The Ohio State University in 2016 under the guidance of Dr. Keith Gooch. His doctoral research focused on the importance of insoluble cues from the cellular microenvironment on particular cell behaviors, such as human mesenchymal stem cell differentiation. He joined the Millman Lab in the fall of 2016 with the hopes of using these skills to help improve the differentiation of stem cell-derived β-cells and assist in the tissue engineering of pancreatic islets.

Research Interests

Type 1 diabetes results from the loss of insulin-producing β-cells within the pancreas. Transplantation of mature β-cells offers a potential cure for this disease, but a reliable source of functional β-cells is vital to this approach. Nathaniel’s mentor, Dr. Jeffrey Millman, previously developed with colleagues a six stage protocol for differentiating human pluripotent stem cells into functional β-cells using a step-wise combination of soluble factors. Nathaniel’s current research focuses on further improving the maturation and function of these β-cells through a tissue engineering approach, such as incorporating cues from the native extracellular matrix that surrounds β-cells in vivo. His other research interests include encapsulation and immunoprotection strategies for transplantation of these cells.

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.

Chandler Est, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

cest [at] email [dot] wustl [dot] edu

Biography 

Chandler was born in Alabama, but raised in the St. Louis area. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Missouri – Columbia (Mizzou) with minors in Biology and Mathematics. He moved north to earn his PhD in Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Wisconsin – Madison under the advisement of Professor Regina Murphy. His doctoral research focused on vitamin A transport protein interactions both in delivery of vitamin A to an induced pluripotent stem cell model of the blood-brain barrier, and with beta-amyloid, the hallmark peptide implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. He joined the Millman Lab in the fall of 2021 with the intention to use his expertise in CRISPR-interference and CRISPR-activation techniques to further enhance the efficacy and mechanistic understanding of stem cell-derived β-cell populations as functional cures for Type 1 diabetes.

Research Interests

Differentiated β-cell populations have shown success in vitro and in vivo in functionally treating Type 1 diabetes. However, these cell products are not homogenous, containing populations of cells that co-differentiate into other islet cell types, such as α-cells, δ-cells and enterochromaffin cells. Chandler’s current research focuses on understanding the importance of these cell types in the final cell therapy functionality. His other research interests involve leveraging CRISPRi/a unbiased screening to identify target genes that enhance β-cell survival upon treatment with environmental stressors known to inhibit transplantation efficacy or cell therapy functionality.

Members

Punn Augsornworawat, M.S.

Doctoral Student

punn [at] wustl [dot] edu

Punn received his B.Eng. in Materials Engineering from McGill University. He then earned his M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University, where he studied biomaterials for immunotherapy. In 2018, he joined the Millman Lab as a doctoral student in the Biomedical Engineering PhD Program. Punn is interested in using bioinformatics to study islet development and engineer stem cells to advance treatments for diabetes. Outside, he enjoys photography, skiing, and trying new foods.

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.

Erica Marquez, B.S.

Lentiviral Production Lead and Research Assistant

merica [at] wustl [dot] edu

Erica is a Research Assistant working in the Millman laboratory. She graduated with a degree in Biology from Western Illinois University, where she studied the effects of environmental changes on spatial learning in mice. She currently heads the Genetic Engineering sector of the lab utilizing lentiviral technology. She spends most of her time gardening, making cheese, and caring for her pets. Erica began working in the Millman Lab in May of 2020.

Diana Hernandez, B.S.

Technician

hdiana [at] wustl [dot] edu

Diana was born in Colima, Mexico and raised in Miami, Florida. She completed her B.S in Biology and Biochemistry at Spring Hill College in 2020 and is currently working on completing her M.S in Microbiology & Cell Science with a concentration in Medical Microbiology and Biochemistry. Outside of the lab, Diana enjoys hiking, running at Forest Park, baking, reading and spending time with friends. She joined the Millman Lab as a technician in January 2021 and is interested in going to medical school in the near future.

Cameron Banks, B.S.

Technician

cbanks22 [at] wustl [dot] edu

Cameron was born and raised in Saint Louis, MO. He received his BS in Biology from Truman State University in 2020. During his undergrad, he did research quantifying deterioration in specific muscles in Duchene Muscular Dystrophy affected tissues using a canine model. In his free time he likes to read.

Mason Schmidt, B.S.

Developmental Biology & Regenerative Medicine Postbaccalaureate

m.schmidt1 [at] wustl [dot] edu

Mason received his B.S. in Biochemistry, Cell, & Molecular Biology from Drake University in 2021. That same year he joined the Millman lab through the Postbaccalaureate Program in Developmental Biology & Regenerative Medicine. He is interested in elucidating cell fate decisions in the pancreatic islet. Outside of the lab he enjoys being on the golf course, exploring nature, or reading a good book.

Julia Miller

Undergraduate Researcher

juliam [at] wustl [dot] edu

Julia is an undergraduate student majoring in Biomedical Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis. She is a member of the Varsity Women’s Soccer team and is involved with the organization Engineers Without Borders (designing an irrigation system to be implemented in a community in Uganda). Outside of the lab, she enjoys reading, hiking, and playing board games. Julia joined the Millman lab in January 2020.

Maggie Bui, B.S.

Rotation MD/PhD Student

maggiebui [at] wustl [dot] edu

Maggie grew up in southern California. She attended University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), graduating with a B.S. degree in Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology, and a minor in Biomedical Research. As an undergraduate, Maggie studied regulation of the Wnt signaling pathway and its downstream impact in the context of colorectal and liver cancer. Maggie then joined the MSTP (MD-PhD) program at Washington University in St. Louis in fall of 2020. In her free time, Maggie enjoys reading, playing piano, and playing computer games and table-top board games.

Recent Alumni

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.

Former Members

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.