Robert B. Vernon, PhD
Dr. Vernon received his bachelor’s degree in Biology/Zoology from the University of Washington and received his PhD in Cell Biology from the University of Washington in 1985. He was a postdoctoral fellow and, later, a faculty member in the Department of Biological Structure at the University of Washington School of Medicine from 1985-1999. Subsequently, he joined the Hope Heart Institute in Seattle and, in 2004, became a Research Associate Member at the Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason.
Area of Research
Extracellular matrix is the complex substance outside of cells that provides structural support to living tissues. Dr. Vernon’s laboratory focuses on understanding how extracellular matrix regulates cell behavior – in particular, the behavior of cells that participate in tumor growth (e.g., endothelial cells of blood vessels), in wound repair (e.g., fibroblasts of connective tissue), and in responses of the immune system. Additionally, his laboratory is developing functional replacements for diseased, injured or lost tissues. These engineered tissues are comprised of cells that are grown in contact with supportive scaffolds made from natural extracellular matrix molecules (e.g., collagen). The scaffolds are specially configured to promote the survival, organization and function of the resident cells and to limit rejection and scar formation by the patient. A particularly exciting project focuses on the development of a replacement for the endocrine pancreas to treat type 1 diabetes. This Bioengineered Islet Implant places insulin-producing islets of Langerhans in contact with specific extracellular matrix molecules and bioactive factors selected to promote islet survival and function, islet vascularization and immune tolerance to the graft.
Damodarasamy M, Vernon RB, Chan CK, Plymate SR, Wight TN, Reed MJ. (2015) Hyaluronan in aged collagen matrix increases prostate epithelial cell proliferation. In Vitro Cell Dev Biol (Animal). 51:50-58. PMCID: PMC4571456
Obika M, Vernon RB, Gooden MD, Braun KR, Chan CK, Wight TN. (2013) ADAMTS-4 and biglycan are expressed at high levels and co-localize to podosomes during endothelial cell tubulogenesis in vitro. J. Histochem Cytochem. 62:34-49, 2014. PMCID: PMC3873805
Bollyky PL, Vernon RB, Falk, BA, Preisinger A, Gooden MD, Nepom GT, Gebe JA (2013) IL-10 induction from implants delivering pancreatic islets and hyaluronan. J Diabetes Res. Online pub. article ID #342479. Open Access; PMCID: PMC3736405
Reed MJ, Damodarasamy M, Chan CK, Johnson MNR, Wight TN, Vernon RB (2013) Cleavage of hyaluronan is impaired in aged dermal wounds. Matrix Biol. 32:45-51. PMCID: PMC3570623
Reed MJ, Vernon RB (2012) Miniaturized assays of angiogenesis in vitro. Methods Mol. Biol. 843: 87-98. PMCID: PMC4136681
Vernon RB, Preisinger A, Gooden MD, D’Amico LA, Yue BB, Bollyky PL, Kuhr CS, Hefty TR, Nepom GT, Gebe JA (2012) Reversal of diabetes in mice with a bioengineered islet implant incorporating a type I collagen hydrogel and sustained release of vascular endothelial growth factor. Cell Transplant. 21: 2099-2110. Open Access
Reed MJ, Damodarasamy M, Vernon RB (2011) Angiogenesis in vitro utilizing murine vascular explants in miniaturized 3-dimensional collagen gels. The Open Circulation and Vascular Journal (TOCVJ). 4:12-17. Open Access
Bollyky PL, Wu RP, Falk BA, Lord JD, Long SA, Preisinger A, Teng B, Holt GE, Standifer NE, Braun KR, Xie CF, Samuels PL, Vernon RB, Gebe JA, Wight TN, Nepom GT (2011) ECM components guide IL-10 producing regulatory T-cell (TR1) induction from effector memory T-cell precursors. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 108: 7938-7943. PMCID: PMC3093524
Keire PA, L’Heureux N, Vernon RB, Merrilees MJ, Starcher B, Okon E, Dusserre N, McAllister TN, Wight TN (2010) Expression of versican isoform V3 in the absence of ascorbate improves elastogenesis in engineered vascular constructs. Tissue Eng. 16: 501-512. PMCID: PMC2813184
Damodarasamy M, Vernon RB, Bianchi-Frias D, Nelson PS, Reed MJ (2010) Collagen extracts derived from young and aged mice demonstrate different structural properties and cellular effects in 3-dimensional gels. J. Gerontol. A Biol. Sci. Med. Sci. 65: 209-18. PMCID: PMC2822284