Contact Information

Tel: 212.854.6731


B.S., Biomedical Engineering, 2010, Brown University
M.S., Biomedical Engineering, 2015, Columbia University
Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering, 2019 (expected), Columbia University

Curriculum Vitae

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Areas of Research Interest

Orthopedics; osteoarthritis; tissue engineering; synovium; cartilage; stem cells; cell migration; clinical translation


Rob began his research career as an undergraduate at Brown University with Dr. Edith Mathiowitz, where he wrote his honors thesis on drug-eluting bioabsorbable microfilaments for sutures. Following graduation, he joined the concept development group at DePuy Mitek, a medical device company specializing in soft tissue repair for sports injuries. Noting the limitations of traditional orthopedic implants and devices, Rob decided to pursue tissue engineering research in the Orthopedic Cell Biology Laboratory at Rhode Island Hospital. There he developed a functional multi-axial loading bioreactor and investigated a clinically-relevant placental derived stem cell source for cartilage tissue engineering.

Rob joined the Cellular Engineering Laboratory in 2013 to pursue his PhD in biomedical engineering. He has continued his previous work in osteoarthritis, focusing primarily on developing in vitro synovium models of disease progression and treatment. Tangential projects include work on targeted drug delivery in the joint, electrical stimulation to control inflammation and direct repair cell migration, and cartilage tissue engineering.

When not hard at work in the lab, Rob can often be found running in Central/Riverside Park, playing in his co-ed softball league, cooking, or volunteer teaching.

Selected Publications and Patents

  1. Stefani RM, Lee AJ, Tan AR, Durney KM, Halder SS, Stoker AM, Ateshian GA, Guo XE, Marra KG, Cook JL, Hung CT. Sustained Low-Dose Dexamethasone Delivery is Chondroprotective & Enhances Clinical Repair of Cartilage Lesions. In Preparation.

  2. Stefani RM, Barbosa S, Tan AR, Setti S, Stoker AM, Ateshian GA, Cadossi R, Vunjak-Novakovic G, Aaron RK, Cook JL, Bulinski JC, Hung CT. Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields Promote Repair of Focal Articular Cartilage Defects with Engineered Osteochondral Constructs. In Preparation.

  3. Estell EG, Silverstein AM, Stefani RM, Lee AJ, Murphy LA, Shah RP, Ateshian GA, Hung CT. Cartilage Wear Particles Induce an Inflammatory Response Similar to Cytokines in Human Fibroblast‐like Synoviocytes. J Orthop Res 2019 May 7. doi: 10.1002/jor.24340. link

  4. Stefani RM, Halder SS, Estell EG, Lee AJ, Silverstein AM, Sobczak E, Chahine NO, Ateshian GA, Shah RP, Hung CT. A Functional Tissue Engineered Synovium Model to Study Osteoarthritis Progression and Treatment. Tissue Eng Part A. 2018 Sep 11. doi: 10.1089/ten.TEA.2018.0142. link

  5. Silverstein AM, Stefani RM, Sobczak E, Tong EL, Attur MG, Shah RP, Bulinski JC, Ateshian GA, Hung CT. Toward understanding the role of cartilage particulates in synovial inflammation. Osteoarthritis Cartilage 25(8):1353-1361, 2017. link

  6. Nover AB, Stefani RM, Lee SL, Ateshian GA, Stoker AM, Cook JL, Hung CT. Long-Term Storage and Preservation of Tissue Engineered Articular Cartilage. J Orthop Res 34(1):141-148, 2016. link

  7. Sengun MZ, Tang H, Spenciner DB, Whittaker GR, Miller G, Hernandez J, Stefani RM, inventor; Medos International Sarl, assignee. Surgical Filament Snare Assemblies. US 9,895,145 issued February 2018. link

  8. Bilgen B, Chu D, Stefani RM, Aaron RK. Design of a Biaxial Mechanical Loading Bioreactor for Tissue Engineering. JOVE, 2013. link

  9. Lavin DM, Stefani RM, Zhang L, Furtado S, Hopkins RA, Mathiowitz E. Multifunctional polymeric microfibers with prolonged drug delivery and structural support capabilities. Acta Biomater 8(5):1891-900, 2012. link