BIOE Seminar: Stem Cell Fate is a "Touchy" Subject

Friday, September 1, 2023
9:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m.
A. James Clark Hall, Room #2121
Katharina Maisel

Dr. Quinton Smith
University of California, Irvine
Assistant Professor


Stem Cell Fate is a "Touchy" Subject


The emergence of human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technologies has introduced a groundbreaking avenue for uncovering the intricacies underlying development, disease, and tissue homeostasis. While iPSCs inherently possess the potential to differentiate into nearly any cell type within the body, their effective differentiation hinges on precise conditions that steer their fate. Although genetic tools and in vivo models have illuminated the signaling pathways guiding stem cell fate, translating these cues to in vitro environments often lacks the mechanical and architectural context, or niche, that orchestrates developmental processes. The Smith lab strategically employs engineering methodologies to fabricate microenvironments mirroring facets of the stem cell niche. This endeavor aims to advance the development of improved in vitro tools for guiding lineage specification, ultimately leading to the creation of model systems conducive to investigating various dimensions of stem cell fate determination, encompassing critical stages like germ layer specification and gastrulation, placental development, and the specification of liver and vascular tissues. The acquired insights into these intricate developmental processes pave the way for creating model systems, including on-a-chip models, for studying cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, specifically addressing conditions such as vascular inflammation, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and preeclampsia.

Speaker Bio

Dr. Quinton Smith is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of California, Irvine. He started his laboratory in April 2021 following his postdoctoral research in liver tissue engineering, conducted under the guidance of Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Before his postdoctoral tenure, Dr. Smith earned his Ph.D. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from Johns Hopkins University. During this period, was mentored by Dr. Sharon Gerecht, concentrating on the formulation of engineering methodologies to investigate how physical stimuli orchestrate vascular specification from human induced pluripotent stem cells, supported by the NIH F31 and NSF GRFP fellowships.

Dr. Smith's laboratory is dedicated to exerting control over the stem cell niche by harnessing microfluidics, micropatterning, and synthetic biomaterial scaffolds. These techniques find diverse applications, encompassing the creation of placenta models, tools for regulating vascular assembly, and platforms for studying liver metabolic disorders. Recognized for his contributions, Dr. Smith has earned distinction as a Siebel Scholar, Keystone Symposia Fellow, and PEW Biomedical Scholar. Furthermore, his research is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Hanna Gray Fellowship.

Audience: Public  Clark School 

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