Leading science, pioneering therapies

Liver Tissue Development and Engineering

The liver plays a vital role in human health, including the detoxification of foreign substances. We use stem cells to grow liver cells in the laboratory. The stem cells we use are called human embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells. The attraction of using these cell populations is their indefinite growth in in the lab and their ability to form all the cells found in the human body. We have developed reliable methods for growing the liver cells and spheres. We believe our stem cell derived liver tissue has an important part to play modelling human disease in a petridish and improving the efficiency of human drug development. Moreover, in the future stem cell derived liver cells may provide an alternative source of tissue to treat human liver failure and disease.

David Hay

Group leader
Group Leader and Professor of Tissue Engineering
0131 651 9500
Aims and areas of interest

Our aims are:

  • To develop informative human liver models produced from pluripotent stem cells
  • To develop implantable human liver tissue derived from pluripotent stem cells
  • To develop synthetic and natural materials for tissue engineering purposes

    Stem cell derived liver spheres

    •	Spheres of stem cell-derived liver cells (orange) placed on the scaffold. Credit: H Rashidi 2018.
    Professor Hay recently wrote an article on careers in science for Futurum Careers.
    More information

    Additional PhD Students

    Sharmin Alhaque (PhD Student shared with Brunel University)
    Gregor Skeldon (PhD Student shared with Strathclyde University)


    We work collaboratively with a number of groups in Edinburgh:

    Stuart Forbes, Mark Bradley, Anthony Callanan, Mandy Drake, Colin Campbell, Carsten Hansen, Anura Rambukana and Bruno Peault

    We collaborate with other researchers in the UK and overseas:

    Our industry partners include: