Home | Research Team

Dr. Badylak
Stephen Badylak, DVM, PhD, MD
Professor of Surgery

Dept. of Surgery University of Pittsburgh

Deputy Director
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine

McGowan Center for Preclinical Studies

TERMIS President

Purdue University (1976)

Purdue University Clinical Pathology (1978)

Purdue University Anatomic Pathology (1981)

Indiana University (1985)

Dr. Badylak is Deputy Director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Director of the Center for Preclinical Testing, and directs a laboratory focused upon the use of biologic scaffolds composed of extracellular matrix (ECM) to facilitate functional tissue regeneration. Dr. Badylak is the immediate President-past of the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society, the author of more than 275 peer reviewed publications, and holds more than 50 issued U.S. patents and 300 patents worldwide. The focus of Dr. Badylak's work has been the mechanisms by which extracellular matrix signals host tissues to promote and support functional tissue reconstruction. Dr. Badylak places high emphasis upon clinical translation of all activities in the laboratory and work conducted within the laboratory spans the full spectrum from basic science at the subcellular level to patient care at the bed side.
Research Faculty and Staff
Janet Reing, MS
Janet Reing is a research scientist in the Badylak Laboratory. With a background in cell and molecular biology, she participates in a variety of projects related to ECM properties and cell-ECM interactions, and is particularly interested in biologic properties of the molecules that are released during degradation of the ECM.
Scott Johnson, MS
Scott Johnson is a research scientist in the Badylak laboratory. He received his Master's degree from Bowling Green State University studying Evolutionary Biology. Scott participates in a broad array of project involving customized ECM devices, cell culture, and preclinical studies. He is particularly involved in the limb and digit reconstruction project funded by the Defense Department.
Brian Sicari, PhD
Brian Sicari is a research assistant professor in the Badylak laboratory. He is examining the ability of surgically placed biologic scaffolds composed of ECM to augment the endogenous tissue injury response. Brian is especially interested in the ability of degradation products of ECM to promote immune modulation and how a modulated immune response affects the tissue remodeling process, including progenitor cell activity. Brian received his PhD from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine in 2013.
Neill Turner, BSc, PhD
Neill Turner is a research assistant professor in the Badylak laboratory. He is investigating the role of decellularized extracellular matrix in limb and muscle regeneration. He has extensive experience studying vascular biology and cardiovascular tissue engineering. Neill's particular interest is in the role dynamic forces play in the control of cell differentiation and cellular recruitment to sites of injury. Neill completed his doctorate at the UK Centre for Tissue Engineering at the University of Manchester. Here, he investigated how cyclic stretching mediates differentiation of adult progenitor cells down smooth muscle, osteogenic and adipogenic lineages. In addition, Neill investigated the endothelialization of artificial vascular grafts and the effects of extracellular matrix substrata and shear stress on endothelial cell attachment and retention, leading to the development of a type VIII collagen-coated, endothelialized polyurethane graft.
Li Zhang, MD, MS
Li Zhang graduated from Beijing Medical University from China. She has many years of experience in biomedical research field. She joined Dr. Badylak's lab in 2006
Post Doctoral Fellows
Alessandra Costa, PhD
Alessandra Costa received the PhD at Sapienza University of Rome. Her research was focused on two topics: i) exploiting Vasopressin signaling in muscular atrophy and dystrophies and ii) skeletal muscle tissue engineering based on the use of a decellularized scaffold for whole muscle reconstruction. Alessandra is interested in the immunomodulatory, chemotactic and mitogenic potential of the ECM-derived scaffolds. Interactions host-biological scaffold (i.e. immune response, tissue remodeling and repair), in particular for musculoskeletal tissue, and the study of ECM-derived scaffold mechanical properties are additional research interests.
Luai Huleihel, PhD
Luai Huleihel received his PhD from Ben-Gurion University – Israel. His training was done at the University of Pittsburgh where he studied the involvement of miRNAs (let-7d and miR-30b in particular) and hMSCs in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis and EMT. Luai is interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms of ECM induced constructive remodeling, specifically in examining the role of miRNAs and exosomes involvement in the remodeling response and the effect on macrophage polarization. He is also investigating the direct effect of ECM on macrophage polarization with the extended goal of identifying molecular targets to bias polarization.
Michelle Scarritt, PhD
Michelle Scarritt received her PhD from Tulane University in New Orleans, LA where she studied lung tissue engineering. Through her experience with lung decellularization and recellularization within bioreactors, Michelle now hopes to develop vascularization strategies for liver engineering applications. She is also interested in assessing the rate of ECM turnover during recellularization as a means of predicting clinical outcomes for porcine organ scaffolds.
Ilea Swinehart, PhD
Ilea Swinehart received her PhD from the University of Michigan where she studied the function of Hox genes in musculoskeletal development and fracture repair. Ilea is interested in understanding the mechanisms of ECM induced constructive remodeling, specifically in examining the progenitor cell populations that are involved in the remodeling response and the effect of immune modulation on the progenitor recruitment, proliferation, and differentiation. She is also investigating the effects of ECM on macrophage polarization and cell metabolism with the broad goal of identifying molecular targets to bias polarization.
Graduate Students
Jenna Dziki
Jenna Dziki is a doctoral student within the Bioengineering Department at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research focuses on the characterization of extracellular-matrix-mediated host innate immunomodulation and stem/progenitor cell activation. Specifically, Jenna is interested in macrophage polarization following ECM treatment in skeletal muscle and gut repair applications and the effects of polarized macrophages upon endogenous stem cell populations.
Denver Faulk
Denver Faulk is a Doctoral student within the Bioengineering Department at the University of Pittsburgh. His research is focused on investigating whole liver extracellular matrix scaffolds for engineering an implantable liver graft for patients with end-stage liver failure.
Tim Keane
Tim Keane is a graduate student in the Chemical Engineering department at the University of Pittsburgh. His research projects involve investigating the role of decellularized extracellular matrix in limb and muscle regeneration, specifically the tissue remodeling response to ECM that has been subjected to various degrees of decellularization.
Ricardo Londono
Ricardo Londono is an MD/PhD student in the program of Cellular and Molecular Pathology at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. His research focuses in two areas: 1. The characterization of the early immune and stem cell response to implanted biologic and synthetic biomaterials and 2. The development and implementation of multiple pre-clinical models for the study of mechanisms of biomaterial-mediated tissue repair. Such models include esophageal and breast reconstruction after neoplastic tissue resection and abdominal wall repair.
Catalina Pineda Molina
Catalina Pineda Molina is a doctoral student in the Bioengineering Department at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research interests are focused on the immune-modulatory effects of adipose derived stem cells used in combination with extracellular matrix (ECM) scaffolds for regenerative medicine applications.
Mark Murdock
Mark Murdock is a first year doctoral student in the Interdisciplinary Biomedical Graduate Program. His research in the Badylak lab focuses on characterizing the glucose metabolism of ECM polarized macrophages. His interests are broad but center around furthering and applying regenerative biotechnology.
Lindsey Saldin
Lindsey Saldin is a doctoral student within the Bioengineering Department at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research interests focus on developing tissue-engineered models of cancer using ECM scaffolds, to investigate how normal, inflammatory, and neoplastic microenvironments regulate the progression of esophageal adenocarcinoma.
Undergraduate Students
Mohammad Al Haj Asad
Mohammad Al Haj Asad is an undergraduate student in the University of Pittsburgh studying bioengineering with a concentration in Biomechanics. His current research includes examining the effect of host soft tissue on the remodeling of implanted ECM scaffolds, and the characteristics of hydrogel formation due to the introduction of sterilized ECM.
Arthur Castleton
2014, 2015
Arthur Castleton is a BYU undergraduate chemical engineering student. He researches how ECMs derived from different source tissues influence cell migration, proliferation and differentiation, and what effect different processing methods have on the bioactive properties of these ECM scaffolds.
Riddhi Gandhi
Riddhi Gandhi is an undergraduate at the University of Pittsburgh studying bioengineering with a concentration in cellular and tissue engineering. She has prior research experience in a project related to excess collagen buildup in the left ventricular myocardium and the consequent impact of treatment with the drug Relaxin at the gene, protein, and functional levels. Her current research projects involve studying the body's immune response to implanted ECM bioscaffolds placed within sites of tissue injury.
Abigail Loneker
2014, 2015
Abigail Loneker is an undergraduate at the University of Pittsburgh studying bioengineering with a concentration in cellular and tissue engineering. Her current research interests are focused on engineering functional liver tissue by developing novel methods of seeding hepatic cells within a three dimensional scaffold composed of extracellular matrix.
Adam Smoulder
Adam Smoulder is an undergraduate Bioengineering student at the University of Pittsburgh. His research is focused on host cell response and remodeling characteristics associated with biological scaffolding materials. Along with this, Adam also performs rheological analysis to determine how different terminal sterilization and digestion methods affect the gelation and stiffness properties of ECM hydrogels.
Allyson LaCovey
(T) 412-624-5308
(F) 412-624-5256

(Email) lacoveya2@upmc.edu
Jocelyn L. Runyon
(T) 412-624-5253
(F) 412-624-5256
(Email) runyonjl@upmc.edu
Visiting Scholars
Frederik Ceyssens
Frederik Ceyssens was born in Sint-Truiden, Belgium in 1980. In 2003 he received the degree of M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium. The subject of his MS thesis (done at Imec, Belgium) was to design a network-on-chip for efficient multicore communication. After that, he became research assistant at MICAS, investigating novel microfabrication (MEMS) technologies such as SU-8 and their applications in integrated optics and sensors. In 2009, he obtained the PhD degree. He is currently working as a research fellow of the FWO, researching novel brain-computer interfaces in a collaboration between KULeuven and the Gasthuisberg university hospital. He is visiting the Badylak lab in the period January-March 2013.
Serhiy Forostyak
Dr. Forostyak received his Ph.D. degree from Charles University in Prague in 2012, was trained as a General Surgeon in 2005-2008, and received his M.D. in 2005 from Ternopil State Medical University. From 2009 to 2010 he was involved as a fellow into the Marie Curie Actions under the FP 6, CORTEX. During the course of his medical and postgraduate studies, Dr. Forostyak became very interested in neurodegenerative diseases and spinal cord injury. Currently, Dr. Forostyak is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Neuroscience of the Institute of Experimental Medicine, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic and Charles University in Prague. His research interests are focused on the plasticity, neuroprotection and neuregeneration of the spinal cord after acute/chronic trauma or affected by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, using different types of stem cells and biomaterials, and translation of the results to clinics. The studies are performed in vivo using transgenic and knock-out animals, as well as different disease models like balloon induced compression lesion, hemisection, transection with stem cells and hydrogels transplantation. Dr. Forostyak visited Dr. Badylak’s laboratory in April 2013.
Sophie Hollands
Sophie is visiting from the Polytech’Nice Sophia Department at the University of Nice, France, where she is studying Bioengineering. Her research in the Badylak lab centers on whole organ engineering.
Sarka Kubinova, PhD
Dr. Kubinova is a research scientist at the Institute of Experimental Medicine AS CR (Prague, Czech Republic), where she heads the Laboratory of Biomaterials and Biophysical Methods. Her research focuses on the development of new biomaterials for tissue repair, especially hydrogel scaffolds for spinal cord repair as well as nanofibers developed as carriers for cell transfer and drug delivery. In collaboration with Badylak Laboratories, she evaluates the application of extracellular matrix scaffolds from the central nervous system in the treatment of spinal cord injury.
Kristen Jones, MD
Dr. Jones is a fifth-year Neurosurgery resident at UPMC. Her clinical and translational research interests are in brain and spinal cord trauma. She is currently investigating the in vivo potential of central nervous system extracellular matrix as an implantable bioscaffold for neural repair after traumatic injury, focusing on modulation of the macrophage response to promote tissue remodeling.  Kristen received her B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of Notre Dame, and her M.D. from Tulane University School of Medicine. She plans to practice neurosurgery in an academic setting while actively continuing her laboratory research interests.
Juan Diego Naranjo, MD
Juan Diego Naranjo is an MD from Universidad de los Andes, Colombia. His research focuses on exploring the role of RNA in ECM and its effect on macrophages cellular response. He is also involved in projects related to exosome's role in ECM, macrophage polarization via different ECMs and preclinical surgical models for abdominal wall defects and breast reconstruction.
Alejandro Nieponice, MD, PhD
Alejandro Nieponice is a Research Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh and a faculty member of the McGowan Institute. With his background as a esophageal surgeon, his primary research interest is the clinical translation of ECM technologies for esophageal applications. As part of that effort he participates in the design and execution of several pre-clinical studies in the Badylak laboratories to evaluate novel applications of biomaterials.
Mike Sawkins
Mike Sawkins' undergraduate degree is a BA in Natural Sciences (Astrophysics) from the Cambridge University, and now part of an EPSRC-funded Doctoral Training Centre program in Regenerative Medicine, based at universities in Loughborough, Nottingham and Keele. More specifically he is a PhD student in Professor Kevin Shakesheff's Tissue Engineering Group at the University of Nottingham as part of a multi-centre BBSRC-funded project involving Nottingham, Southampton and Keele Universities, and Imperial College, London. his work focuses on injectable delivery systems which can precisely control both the spatial and temporal profile of growth factor presentation, and it is with the aim of furthering this work that he visited the laboratory of Dr. Badylak at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
Abiraman Srinivasan, M.Phil, PhD
Abiraman Srinivasan received his M.Phil degree in endocrinology from University of Madras and PhD in Biomaterials from Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology. He is investigating the mechanism of ECM peptide interaction with perivascular stem cells using click conjugation chemistry and also working with ECM gels to understand perivascular stem cell response to 2D and 3D seeding and their differentiation properties under static and dynamic condition in vitro. His research interest is in biomaterial-cell-tissue interaction and designing and developing biomaterials primarily for orthopedic fracture repair. He has worked with ceramics, polymers, metallic implants and their composites for bone and cartilage repair. Also, his research interest is on designing and developing nanostructured polymeric materials for DNA/siRNA/protein delivery to prevent or treat soft and hard tissue pathogenesis.
Lisa White, PhD
Lisa’s research interests are focused on the use of extracellular matrices, synthetic materials and growth factors to achieve bone regeneration. Lisa has been awarded a European Union Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship to develop a novel decellularization technology for application in whole bones. This involves collaborative research between the Badylak Lab, where Lisa is currently spending 15 months, and the Tissue Engineering group at the University of Nottingham, where Lisa will complete the European phase of the Fellowship.
Jian (Timothy) Zhang, MD, PhD
Dr. Zhang is an Attending Surgeon and Assistant Professor of Surgery in the Department of General Surgery at Shanghai Changzheng Hospital,  affiliated to the Second Military Medical University. In 2009, Dr. Zhang won the Young Medical Elite of Shanghai, and in 2011, Dr. Zhang won the Top Promising Young Doctors of Shanghai in New Century and. His clinical field is abdominal wall reconstructive surgery and digestive surgery. Dr. Zhang's research interests include: Regenerative Medicine for soft tissue, such as fascia, skeletal muscle; Clinical application and modification of biological mesh.
Rotating Students
Colin Beckwitt
Colin Beckwitt, a recent graduate of MIT's Biological Engineering department, is a first year student in the Medical Scientist Training Program at the University of Pittsburgh. His research focuses on investigating the effects of blocking the surface antigen CD47 on hepatocyte growth and survival and measuring the phagocytosis of polarized macrophages.
Mike Calderon
Mike Calderon is a first year doctoral student within the Interdisciplinary Biomedical Graduate Program in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. His interests include wound healing and cell-cell interactions. For his rotation in the Badylak lab, he looked at the effects in vivo ECM degradation products had on macrophages and progenitor cells.
Jeremy Gale
Jeremy Gale is a first year rotation student in the Interdisciplinary Biomedical Graduate Program, and I'm interested in immunology and regenerative medicine. My research in the Badylak lab focuses on using macrophages as an indicator of the biocompatibilty of implantable materials and the molecular basis of esophageal stricture.
Brian Kolich
Brian Kolich’s research involves the mechanical properties of implanted urinary bladder matrix devices, neural and microglial cell migration into UBM hydrogels, and the use of ECM gel for the treatment of osteoarthritis.
Nyla Naim
Nyla Naim is a doctoral student within the Interdisciplinary Biomedical Graduate Program at the University of Pittsburgh. Her current research focuses on the effect of the extracellular matrix on macrophage phenotype.
Prashanti Patil
Prashanti Patil is a doctoral student within the Interdisciplinary Biomedical Graduate Program at the University of Pittsburgh. Her current research focuses on examining the gene expression of whole liver extracellular matrix scaffolds following recellularization.
Kendra Sayles
Kendra Sayles is a doctoral student in the School of Nursing at the University of Pittsburgh. She is interested in bone and skeletal muscle regeneration in the context of severe musculoskeletal disease and injury. Kendra has a particular passion in developing advanced treatment options for servicemen and -women who have suffered life-altering wartime injuries. Kendra is currently rotating in Dr. Badylak's lab under the instruction of Scott Johnson, MS and Li Zhang, MD, MS in studying the recellularization of whole rat liver ECMs in the bioreactor environment.
Nick Siebenlist
Nicholas Siebenlist is a medical student in the Medical Scientist Training Program at the University of Pittsburgh. His research is focused upon the epimorphic regenerative properties of extracellular matrices upon multipotent cell subsets and the role of the immune response in the regenerative process.
Derek Wang
Derek Wang is a Materials Science and Engineering major at Stanford. His research concerns macrophages and skeletal muscle.
PhD Graduates
Hui, S.
Evaluation of the Effect of Small Intestinal Submucosa on the Remodeling of Patellar Tendon Donor Sites in a Canine Model
Tengood, J.
Pancreatic Extracellular Matrix as a Substrate for Islet Cell Differentiation and Growth
Gilbert, T.
In Vitro Remodeling of ECM Scaffolds by Fibroblasts and the Effect of Mechanical Loading
Sellaro, T.
Liver Derived ECM for Hepatic Tissue Engineering
Freytes, D.
ECM Gels as Scaffolds for Tissue Engineering
Valentin, J.
Macrophage Involvement in the Remodeling of ECM Scaffolds
Brennan E.
Biologically Active Degradation Products of Mammalian Extracellular Matrix
Brown, B.
ECM Scaffolds and Macrophage Polarization-Induced Tissue Remodeling
Wainwright, J.
Cardiac Extracellular Matrix as a Scaffold for Myocardial Repair & Reconstruction
Agrawal, V.
ECM Degradation, Matricryptic Peptides, and Stem Cell Recruitment
Carruthers, C.
Tissue and whole organ decellularization: an evaluation of cytocompatibility and mechanics
Medberry, C.
Central Nervous system Extracellular Matrix as a Therapeutic Bioscaffold for Central Nervous System Injury
Sicari, B.
Constructive Tissue Remodeling by Extracellular Matrix Bioscaffolds within the Aging Skeletal Muscle Microenvironment
Wolf, M.
The Influence of Tissue Specific Cardiac and Skeletal Muscle Extracellular Matrix on Muscle Remodeling
Previous Post-Doctoral Fellows
Jack Debes
Post Doctoral Fellow, Director of Research, Mechanical Testing of Biomaterials
Tim McPherson
Dec 1995-May 1997
Post Doctoral Fellow
Annie Liang
Dec 1997-Feb 1999
Post Doctoral Fellow
Julie Myers-Irvin
July 2005-2007
Post Doctoral Fellow
Annie Lee
Post Doctoral Fellow
Allison Beattie
Nov 2006–2008
Post Doctoral Fellow
Alan Boruch
July 2007–June 2009
Post Doctoral Fellow
Neill Turner
Aug 2007-2010
Post Doctoral Fellow
Kerry Daly
July 2008–2011
Post Doctoral Fellow
Alex Huber
Apr 2009-Dec 2011
Post Doctoral Fellow
Brandon Reines
June 2009–2010
Post Doctoral Fellow
Peter Crapo
March 2010–2012
Post Doctoral Fellow
Jeremy Kelly
Oct 2010–Sept 2012
Post Doctoral Fellow
Christopher Dearth
July 2011–2013
Post Doctoral Fellow
Elizabeth Kollar
Oct 2011-June 2013
Post Doctoral Fellow
Marc Hansel
June 2011–Mar 2012
Post Doctoral Fellow
Fan-Wei Meng
June 2012 –2014
Post Doctoral Fellow
Peter Slivka
Sept 2012 – Oct 2014
Post Doctoral Fellow

Team Photo

Badylak team 2015

Updated 25-Jun-2015