Quinton Smith
Quinton Smith’s engineering could help find cures for liver diseases and preeclampsia. The Henry Samueli School of Engineering

UCI engineer Quinton Smith is gaining national recognition for developing lab-grown tissues that can be used to test new drugs. In this video, he explains how the technique works.

Popular Science recently chose Quinton Smith, UCI assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, as one of its Brilliant 10 scientists “on the cusp of changing the world” for his research on growing tissue from stem cells to mimic human organs and see how they interact with drugs. His work has mammoth implications for the development and testing of new pharmaceuticals, potentially making them safer and more effective for use in people, in addition to helping find cures for diseases such as cirrhosis and preeclampsia that disproportionately affect Latino and Black populations.

Smith and his team design small silicon chips with tiny channels filled with a gel concoction to coax the self-assembly of lab-grown blood vessels. He can then send liquids through these organ avatars to test reactions to drug therapies and understand how blood flow influences disease progression.

Popular Science describes his chip innovation as a “game-changing technique” in organ models. Smith says that blood vessels are essential in tissue engineering because they supply oxygen and nutrients to cells, which in turn could enable large groups of lab-grown structures to communicate and thrive.

He’s currently applying his method to investigate the causes of preeclampsia, a pregnancy complication that causes high blood pressure. It can be deadly for anyone but is especially so among Black women. Using lab-grown placenta-like cells, Smith is studying how an individual’s environment may contribute to inflammation in the placenta and interfere with blood vessels.

In this video, he discusses his groundbreaking stem cell engineering.

If you want to learn more about supporting this or other activities at UCI, please visit the Brilliant Future website at https://brilliantfuture.uci.edu. Publicly launched on Oct. 4, 2019, the Brilliant Future campaign aims to raise awareness and support for UCI. By engaging 75,000 alumni and garnering $2 billion in philanthropic investment, UCI seeks to reach new heights of excellence in student success, health and wellness, research and more. The Henry Samueli School of Engineering plays a vital role in the success of the campaign. Learn more by visiting https://brilliantfuture.uci.edu/the-henry-samueli-school-of-engineering.