Dave Hay Research Group

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 tissue 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 the lab and their ability to form all the cells found in the human body. We have developed reliable methods for building human liver tissue. Encouragingly, it behaves in a similar way to the liver found in the human body. We believe our liver tissue has an important part to play in improving human drug development and repurposing; modelling human disease and in the future may provide an alternative source of human tissue to treat failing human liver function.

Professor David Hay

Group Leader

Contact details

Aims and areas of interest

Hay research group
Professor Dave Hay and his research group

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

Professor Hay recently wrote an article on careers in science for Futurum Careers.

Group Members

Victoria Gadd (Postdoc)

Sharmin Alhaque (PhD Student shared with Brunel University)

Dewi Jones (PhD Student)

Alvile Kasarinaite (PhD Student)

Angus Marks (PhD Student shared with Chemistry)

Matthew Sinton (PhD Student shared with BHF CVR)

Gregor Skeldon (PhD Student shared with Strathclyde University)

Mojca Zelnikar (Research Assistant)


We work collaboratively with a number of groups in Edinburgh:

Stuart ForbesMark BradleyAnthony CallananMandy DrakeColin CampbellCarsten HansenAnura Rambukana and Bruno Peault

We collaborate with other researchers in the UK and overseas:

Our industry partners include:

tem cell derived liver spheres express a protein
Stem cell derived liver spheres express a protein, zona occludens 1, important in organising liver cells


Spheres of stem cell-derived liver cells
Spheres of stem cell-derived liver cells (orange) placed on the scaffold. Credit: H Rashidi 2018.