The Willerth lab investigates how to engineer neural tissue by combining pluripotent stem cells, controlled drug delivery and biomaterial scaffolds. When generating these replacement tissues, we use both embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells as these cells can become any cell type found in the body, including those cells found in the nervous system. Our recent projects have used human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs), which are adult cells reprogrammed back into an embryonic stem cell-like state, leading to the possibility of generating patient specific pluripotent stem cell lines with a reduced risk of immune rejection post transplantation. Recent work suggests that these hiPSC lines show a decreased risk of tumor formation compared to traditional embryonic stem cells, further enhancing their clinical relevance. To generate neural tissue, we seed these cells into different types of drug releasing scaffolds. These novel biomaterial scaffolds direct the stem cells to form functional neural tissue by delivering appropriate chemical and physical signals. Once we fully understand how to engineer neural tissue from stem cells, we can then apply these principles to produce other tissues found in the body.