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Jason A. Wertheim (PI)
University of Arizona
Our goal is to develop nephron segments using 3D scaffolds as templates for pluripotent stem cells. This project uses extracellular matrix (ECM) to define scaffold-specific elements that drive cell differentiation. We use a high-throughput system of ECM scaffolds to screen conditions favoring differentiation. In this process we identify the requisite matrix-bound elements for differentiation and test the role of ECM remodeling by secondary cell types. Together, this system serves as a model for nephron development within a full-scale kidney scaffold and establishes the requirements for stem cell differentiation within a perfusion bioreactor system. The result of our systematic investigation is to decode critical factors involved in nephron reconstitution, important next steps in tubule repair and renal tissue regeneration.