Robert B. Vernon, PhD

Research Associate Member; Manager, Histology/Imaging Core
Office Phone: 

Background Information

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.

Dr. Vernon's CV

Vernon Laboratory

Histology/Imaging Core Laboratory

Matrix Biology Program