Brett Napiwocki

Brett Napiwocki
Creating cardiac tissue networks with defined topology and substrate mechanics

Years at WID

2011 - present


  • B.S., Biomedical Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • M.S., Biomedical Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Research Description

Cardiomyocytes derived from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSC-CMs) can now be generated by the billions at industrial scale levels and offer the unique ability to act as human cardiac model systems used for a variety of physiological/pathophysiological processes and cardiotoxicity testing. Unfortunately, their prevalence has not removed all barriers because of their maturity status and resemblance to fetal rather than adult cardiomyocytes. To enhance the maturation status of hPSC-CMs to adult-like levels, researchers have investigated substrate stiffness, surface topology, electrical stimulation, co-cultures, tri- cultures, biochemical cues and static and cyclic strain, all of which have shown some improvements in maturation but none that have created fully adult-like cardiomyocytes. Up until now, however, few have undertaken the daunting task of combining multiple such cues into one platform. We hypothesize that an engineered micropatterned platform recapitulating most of the biochemical and biophysical signals stemming from the native myocardium will enhance the maturation status of hPSC-CMs to adult-like levels through the combination of cell patterning, substrate stiffness, electrical stimulation and co-culturing with cardiac fibroblasts.


  • Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES)
  • UnityPoint - Meriter HELP volunteer


  • Hilldale Undergraduate Research Fellowship, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • UnityPoint - Meriter Pinnacle Award for outstanding volunteers
  • 3M Fellowship

Selected Publications

  • Salick, Max R., Napiwocki, Brett N., et al. "Micropattern width dependent sarcomere development in human ESC-derived cardiomyocytes." Biomaterials 35.15 (2014): 4454-4464.
  • Napiwocki, Brett N., et al. "Controlling hESC-CM cell morphology on patterned substrates over a range of stiffness." Mechanics of Biological Systems and Materials, Volume 6. Springer International Publishing, 2017. 161-168.