Jim Smith is a globally recognised developmental biologist currently carrying out a review of how to fund science at Wellcome. Join him as he discusses his trail-blazing research into how the different types of cell in an embryo form at the right time and in the right place.
Jim specialises in the study of the molecular signals within embryos that tell cells when and how to grow, specialise and move. Using frog, zebrafish and mouse embryos, he is investigating the signals that generate the layer of cells known as the mesoderm, which eventually gives rise to tissues such as heart, muscle, kidney and bone.
The aim of his research is to find out exactly how these signals are received and interpreted by cells so that they know what to do.
As well as revealing how these signals work in healthy embryos, he and his team are finding out what happens when they go wrong, providing new insights into developmental disorders and diseases. His research is also investigating how we can use the very same signals to make embryonic stem cells grown in the lab give rise to different tissue types. This could lead to new ways to create replacement tissues or organs for repair or transplantation.
Come along and discover just what the first few days in the life of a frog can reveal.
About the speaker
Sir Jim Smith is Director of the Wellcome science review and a Visiting Group Leader at the Francis Crick Institute. He joined Wellcome in December 2016 as Director of Science, responsible for leading the Science Division, developing Wellcome’s science strategy, and managing a broad portfolio of research. In January 2019, he took on the role of Director Wellcome science review and is currently leading an ambitious plan to review how Wellcome supports science, to ensure we get the best possible advances in scientific knowledge and health.
A globally recognised developmental biologist, Jim's research interests include inductive interactions in vertebrate development and applying the principles of developmental biology to stem cell differentiation. Jim also leads a research group at the Francis Crick Institute which focuses on studying the development of various vertebrate species to find out how the different types of cell in an embryo form at the right time and in the right place.
His previous roles include Director of the WT/CRUK Gurdon Institute and Director of the MRC National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), Deputy CEO and Chief of Strategy at the MRC, and Director of Research at the Francis Crick Institute.
Jim has a distinguished career in scientific research as a Fellow of the Royal Society (1993), a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (1998) and a member of the Academia Europaea (2000). He has also been awarded the EMBO Medal (1993) and the Waddington Medal (2013). Jim was knighted in the 2017 Queen's New Year's Honours list.