Interview with Meghan Samberg: “Grow” Hair Follicles With Biofabrication

Meghan Samberg, Ph.D., is the Chief Development Officer at Stemson Therapeutics, where she oversees the development of tissue-engineered cell therapy products that are designed for the regeneration of new hair follicles for any type and stage of hair loss. She is experienced in growing seed-stage companies within the fields of regenerative and translational medicine with specialties in skin wound healing, tissue engineering, animal model development and testing, nanoparticle toxicology, biomaterial fabrication, and lyophilization. Before joining Stemson, Meghan simultaneously served as the VP of Clinical Affairs at ISTO Biologics, an orthobiologics company, where she led all laboratory, preclinical, and clinical research efforts, and VP & GM of Compass Biomedical, a biologics company specializing in blood-based products and therapies. In addition to serving as the PI and PM on multi-million-dollar NIH, DoD, and BARDA-funded preclinical and clinical programs for Compass products, she oversaw the CDMO services for seed-stage companies, translating their R&D concepts into cGMP processes and serving as their regulatory contact. Meghan holds a BS in Biological Engineering from the University of Georgia, an MS in Biomedical Engineering from Yale University, and a PhD from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University. She conducted post-doctoral research at NCSU and the United States Army Institute for Surgical Research at Fort Sam Houston. Dr. Samberg will speak at our upcoming event focusing on Biofabrication for Skin Components, where she will share her work on hair follicles with us.

When was your first encounter with 3D printing?

Meghan: My first experience with 3D printing was a demo and conversation with my former classmate and friend, Dr. Joseph Zinter, who became the Assistant Director at the Yale Center for Engineering Innovation and Design. At the time, he was leveraging 3D printing to make models in both plastic and plaster of knees, feet, pelvises, and shoulder blades—for physicians to plan complex surgeries and communicate with patients. I was in awe of the brilliance, imagination, and ingenuity being used to ensure better surgical outcomes would be achieved.  

What inspired you to start your journey?

Meghan: At Stemson Therapeutics, we’re developing cell therapy solutions for hair loss. Our first product is a tissue-engineered product designed to be a nascent follicular unit for the de novo formation of new hair follicles for any type and stage of alopecia. This would be a breakthrough therapy to address major unmet needs in the hair loss market, as no other therapy has been able to generate a new source for hair follicles. While our process started with us generating each of our engineered follicular units manually, we quickly recognized the advantages that automated bioprinting could afford our process. Since implementing our 3D bioprinter into our workflow, we’ve seen consistency, quality, and scale improvements. 

Who inspired you the most along this journey in 3D bioprinting?

Meghan: For 3D printing, Dr. Paul Dalton at the University of Oregon is a stand-out; not only is his team developing really amazing and accessible devices (the MEWron), but what they’re producing is pushing the boundaries for mechanical, morphological, and chemical properties of high-performance environments. For bioprinting, I’ve got my eye on the fabulous teams at EpiBone and at United Therapeutics.  

What motivates you the most for your work? 

Meghan: Witnessing the unmet needs of patients drives me every day. At the US Army Institute for Surgical Research, I saw firsthand how our wounded warriors’ physical appearance after injury could hinder their mental healing. This is why I’m so passionate about developing treatments like bioactive burn wound healing products and engineered hair follicles. These innovations aim to bridge the gap between a person’s physical recovery and their emotional well-being. The more formidable the medical challenge, the more determined I am to find a solution. The possibility of helping people heal completely, both physically and emotionally, keeps me pushing science’s boundaries every day. 

What is/are the biggest obstacle(s) in your line of work? If you have conquered them, what were your solutions? 

Meghan: The biggest obstacle in generating our tissue-engineered product was the availability of high-quality biomaterials that are safe and functional and also ensuring the engraftment and survival of our transplanted cells for long-term durability and functionality. Part of our latest successes in demonstrating human hair follicle outcomes is owed to the increasing availability of biomaterials, and also in part to the development of our human skin xenograft model so that we can visualize the folliculogenic and engraftment processes of our transplanted engineered follicular units. 

What do you think is (are) the biggest challenge(s) in bio-printing? What do you think the potential solution(s) is (are)?

Meghan: I’ve been delighted to see advances related to integrated parameter controls such as temperature controlled stages, imaging, and multiple printhead options but I think a remaining challenge in bioprinting is related to size resolution of printing complex, functional and viable tissues in their stereotypical arrangements. 

If you are granted three wishes by a higher being, what would they be? 


  1. Free higher education for everyone
  2. More STEM opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds
  3. World peace

What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student in the “real world”? What bad advice have you heard that they should ignore? 

Meghan: Good advice: Approach everything with an open mindset and maintain a high standard for your work. 

Bad advice: You must always be moving up the ladder in your career. Science is much more fluid, so as long as you’re learning, you don’t face penalties by lateralling in the title.

What’s your favorite book you read this year and why? Alternatively, what’s your favorite book of all time you read and why?

Meghan: My favorite book I read last year was Quiet by Susan Cain. It challenges the idea that introversion is a weakness and highlights introverts’ unique strengths and contributions to the world and as leaders. 

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