Professor Austin Smith FRS
Austin Smith is a stem cell biologist whose significant discoveries have helped to explain how identical cells in the early embryo are able to differentiate into the hundreds of different cell types in the mature animal. His work has laid the foundations for the development of potential stem cell therapies for degenerative diseases in humans.
Having identified the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that support pluripotency, Austin developed a culture medium for mouse stem cells that allows them to renew themselves indefinitely. This has enabled him to explore with great precision the signals that bring them out of this ‘ground state’ of pluripotency and set them on different paths to maturity.
Austin has extended his work into the more challenging area of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). He coordinates Europe-wide programmes of stem cell research, and in January 2010 he was awarded the prestigious Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine.
Interest and expertise
- Biochemistry and molecular cell biology
- Cell biology (incl molecular cell biology)
- Microbiology, immunology and developmental biology