Versatile Synthetic Substrates for Cellular Assay Development and 3D Organoid Culture and Screening

Life Sciences, Pharmaceutical, Drug Discovery & Development, Preclinical, Laboratory Technology,
  • Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Stem Pharm Inc. has developed a synthetic hydrogel platform that allows the design and optimization of substrates for cell expansion, differentiation, and screening applications, including 3D cell culture and organoid models. Through control of the substrate’s mechanical properties and presentation of adhesion ligand as well as utilizing chemistries that maintain cellular health and function, we provide cell-specific biomaterials for advanced cellular assay platforms and specialized cell expansion and differentiation applications. For many applications, these hydrogels provide advantages over animal-derived biomaterials such as the mouse sarcoma–derived products from Engelbreth-Holm-Swarm, marketed as Matrigel™, Geltrex™, and Cultrex™. For example, Stem Pharm has developed a hydrogel to promote vascular tubulogenesis that enables high-throughput screening (HTS) for vascular disruptors using human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) or induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs)-derived endothelial cells. Use of this hydrogel provides advantages over assay platforms that use Matrigel and similar products, which are challenging in an HTS workflow due to their temperature sensitivity and lot-to-lot variability.

The Stem Pharm hydrogel platform is flexible for use in standard cell culture workflows, not requiring complex bioprinting methodologies and is suitable for coculture and 3D organoid applications. Organoids can be formed and maintained in multi-well plates by adhering to the hydrogel rather than growing en masse in suspension cultures. This facilitates their use for toxicity or efficacy screening applications, including those requiring imaging readouts. In another example, a neural organoid model, enabled by these hydrogels, was developed that produced multicomponent neural constructs with 3D neuronal and glial organization, organized vascular networks, and microglia with ramified morphologies (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 112:12516–12521 (2015) and Exp Biol Med 242:1679–1689 (2017)). This model was utilized in a developmental neurotoxicity screen and was demonstrated to be very reproducible both well-to-well and between independent experiments.

This webinar will provide background on the rationale for use of synthetic hydrogels for advanced cellular applications in the drug discovery arena and will highlight techniques and technologies used to analyze outputs of these applications.


Connie Lebakken, Ph.D., President and Chief Operating Officer, Stem Pharm, Incorporated

Connie Lebakken, PhD—cofounder and chief operating officer of Stem Pharm, Incorporated—has extensive experience in cell biology, assay development, and advancement of technologies through the product development pipeline. She received her PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Wisconsin and did her postdoctoral training in Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Iowa. She has held leadership roles in Operations and Research and Development at life science companies throughout her career. Dr. Lebakken has expertise in the development of high-throughput biochemical and cell-based drug discovery assays and in the development of tools and protocols to improve stem cell workflows. She is currently leading Stem Pharm’s efforts to commercialize advanced biomaterials for cellular applications, including advanced cellular assays, organoid formation for screening purposes, and cell expansion for therapeutic purposes.

Message Presenter

Who Should Attend?

Scientists, engineers and professionals in life science fields who are interested in biomaterials, hydrogels, 3D cell culture, organoids or drug discovery. You might be, or aspire to be, one of the following:

  • Core Facility Manager
  • Graduate Student
  • Engineer (Bio, Biomedical, Biomaterials, Materials Science Process, Production)
  • Lab Management (Lab Director, Principal Investigator, Group Leader, Department Chair)
  • Post-Doctoral Fellow
  • Professor/Instructor
  • Research Scientist/Staff Scientist


What You Will Learn

3D culture and organoids are fast becoming key in vitro models for studying tissues, disease and drugs.

This webinar shows you key techniques and technologies Stem Pharm uses, such as Thermo Scientific™ Varioskan™ LUX Multimode Microplate Reader in the manufacture and quality control of their proprietary hydrogels, Invitrogen™ EVOS™ FL Imaging System for fluorescent imaging of cell cultures, and Thermo Scientific™ CellInsight™ CX5 High Content Screening Platform to perform the vascular tubulogenesis and developmental neurotoxicity assays they have developed.

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Thermo Fisher Scientific

We are the world leader in serving science, with revenues of more than $20 billion and approximately 70,000 employees globally. Our mission is to enable our customers to make the world healthier, cleaner, and safer. We help our customers accelerate life sciences research, solve complex analytical challenges, improve patient diagnostics, deliver medicines to market, and increase laboratory productivity. Through our premier brands—Thermo Scientific™, Applied Biosystems™, Invitrogen™, Fisher Scientific™, and Unity Lab Services™—we offer an unmatched combination of innovative technologies, purchasing convenience, and comprehensive services. For more information, please visit

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