Sean Palecek started the lab in Fall 2000, after serving as a post-doctoral researcher with Stephen Kron at the University of Chicago. Sean graduated from from the University of Delaware, majoring in chemical engineering with a minor in biology. He began graduate studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, working with Doug Lauffenburger in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Alan Horwitz in the Department of Cell and Structural Biology. Sean moved with Lauffenburger moved to the Massachusetts Institute of Tech-nology, continuing his collaboration with Horwitz, and completing his PhD at MIT.
Since 2001 the primary focus of my research lab has been enhancing mechanistic understanding of how human pluripotent stem cell (hPSCs) process environmental cues to make fate choices, including whether to self-renew or differentiate to more specialized cell types. We then use this mechanistic information to design expansion and differentiation platforms to produce hPSC-derived cells for a variety of applications, including in vitro development and disease modeling, building models for drug screening and toxicity assessment, and cell-based therapeutics for regenerative medicine. Our current focus involves producing cardiac and neurovascular unit cell types and assembling these into 3D tissue structures. The tools we employ include cell culture, molecular and cellular analytics, genome editing, microfabrication, genomics and metabolomics, mathematical modeling, and cell physiological assays. Our research is highly collaborative with my group focusing on regulation of cell fate processes and collaborators providing expertise on particular cell types and applications employing those cell types.