Duke University | Pratt School of Engineering

The Setton Lab

Our group is located in the Medical Science Research Building at Duke University, where we focus our efforts on understanding the mechanisms for degeneration and regeneration of soft tissues of the musculoskeletal system. You can read more about our work here

Intervertebral Disc Cell Mechanobiology

We are interested in how cell-matrix interactions regulate cellular synthesis and phenotype in intervertebral disc pathology. Read more here

PhD Hooding Ceremony

The PhD Hooding ceremony is a special time to celebrate completion of the degree! The alumni of the lab have gone on to many exciting careers, inclduing academia and industry. See what our alumni are up to here


Lab members collaborate on a project to synthesize protein-polymer conjugates that can promote cell attachment

Collaborative Science

BME laboratory members work with collaborators in Orthopaedic Surgery, Neurosurgery, Rheumatology, Chemistry, Cell Biology and more in advancing therapies for treatment of musculoskeletal disorders

Duke Athletics

Here at Duke, athletics play a large role in our lives 

Welcome to the Setton Laboratory

Research in the Laboratory is focused on understanding the mechanisms for degeneration and regeneration of soft tissues of the musculoskeletal system, including the intervertebral disc, articular cartilage, and meniscus.

Our research employs tools of mechanical engineering, synthetic chemistry, molecular biology, and analytic chemistry to advance use of drug depots and biomaterials to develop therapies for musculoskeletal pathology.  Ongoing projects include:

  • Synthesis of novel biomaterials for controlling intervertebral disc cell phenotype and metabolism
  • Progenitor cell differentiation to intervertebral disc cell phenotypes
  • Synthesis of novel drug depots for sustained release of inflammatory antagonists in arthritis and disc pathology
  • Studies of cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions that regulate intervertebral disc and progenitor cell phenotypes
  • Preclinical models of arthritis and intervertebral disc disorders and novel assessments of pain and dysfunction

Recent News

January 2014
New paper alert - Jun's most recent stem cell paper has posted in Stem Cell Research & Therapy: "Human umbilical cord mesenchymal stromal cells exhibit immature nucleus pulposus cell phenotype in a laminin-rich pseudo-three-dimensional culture system."
January 2014
New paper alert - Priscilla's paper just came out in Journal of Biomechanical Engineering: "The Role Of Extracellular Matrix Elasticity And Composition In Regulating The Nucleus Pulposus Cell Phenotype In The Intervertebral Disc."
December 2013
Another paper on Aubrey's doctoral work in Acta Biomaterialia: "Photocrosslinkable laminin-functionalized polyethylene glycol hydrogel for intervertebral disc regeneration."