Ashton lab spinoff safeguards developing brain, spinal cord from toxic threats

Amid his usual day-to-day of meeting with students, writing research papers and grant proposals, and overseeing experiments in a productive lab at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, Randolph Ashton is polishing his pitch.

Ashton, an associate professor of biomedical engineering, is co-founder of Neurosetta, a startup company built around technology for modeling human brain and spinal cord development that emerged from his research lab. Launching the company in 2021 has meant adding entrepreneurial skills to his repertoire—understanding market research, clearly defining the technology’s applications, and presenting it all in a way that resonates with potential investors.

“It’s a different side of your brain and a different way to look at things,” says Ashton, who co-founded the company along with lab alumnus Gavin Knight (PhDBME ’18) and former UW-Madison colleague Rebecca Willett.

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