Leading science, pioneering therapies

Pluripotent stem cell hepatocyte development

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 they behave very similar to the ones found in the human body. We believe our liver cells have an important part to play improving human drug development and modelling human disease in a petridish. Moreover, in the future stem cell derived liver cells may provide an alternative to treat human liver failure and disease.

David Hay

Group leader
RCUK Research Fellow
0131 651 9500
Aims and areas of interest

Our aims are:

  • To develop scalable and defined human hepatocytes from pluripotent stem cells;
  • Use of cell based models to probe different aspects of liver biology which include; 
    1. drug induced liver injury (DILI);
    2. hepatitis C virus infection and replication.
  • Use of synthetic and natural materials to stabilise hepatocyte phenotype;
  • Use of synthetic and natural materials for tissue engineering.


We work collaboratively with a number of groups in Edinburgh.

Additionally, we collaborate with other researchers in the UK and overseas.

Our industry partners include: