Professor Austin Smith FRS
Director, Living Systems Institute

Professor Austin Smith, a Medical Research Council Professor, has joined the University of Exeter as Director of the Living Systems Institute from the Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute at the University of Cambridge where until recently he was the Director.

Austin graduated from the University of Oxford in 1982 and pursued PhD research in Edinburgh. After a post-doctoral period back in Oxford, he returned to Edinburgh in 1990 as a Group Leader at the Centre for Genome Research. He became Centre Director in 1995 and brought together embryonic and adult stem cell biologists to form the Institute for Stem Cell Research.

Austin was appointed to a Medical Research Council Professorship in 2003 and then in 2006 moved to Cambridge and founded the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, where he was Director until 2016.

Austin’s research interest is stem cell biology and in particular pluripotent stem cells that harbour the capacity to generate all cell types of the mammalian organism. His group seek to derive universal principles underlying the establishment and progression of pluripotency in diverse mammalian embryos and to reveal network properties that enable long-term self-renewal in vitro of transient in vivo cell states. They also aim to model and dissect in vitro the developmental programme from emergent naïve pluripotency to lineage-committed progenitors. Austin’s research employs a range of approaches from computational modelling to in vivo chimaera studies.

Austin is a member of EMBO and the Academia Europaea, was awarded the Louis Jeantet Prize for Medicine in 2010, and received the International Society for Stem Cell Research Innovation Award in 2016.