Alec Smith Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor
Ph.D. Tissue Engineering
University College, London, 2012
Stem cell-based models of neuromuscular disease
My research is focused on understanding the mechanistic pathways that underpin muscle and nervous tissue development in health and disease, as well as leveraging this understanding to create truly biomimetic neuromuscular culture systems that express mature human morphological and functional characteristics. By integrating human tissue engineering and cell culture with advanced methods for assaying electrophysiological and contractile function, I aim to develop novel platforms with which to improve the predictive capacity of current preclinical toxicity screening and disease modeling technologies. My research relies on the differentiation of induced pluripotent stem cells into different muscle and neuronal subtypes in order to study their function and interactions. Currently, I am using these cell-based models to study the functional impact of mutations causing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Charcot Marie Tooth disease, and distal arthrogryposis syndromes.