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Thomas L. Smith, PhD

Thomas L. Smith, Ph.D., Professor

Education consists of a B.S. (Zoology) at Texas A&M University in 1971, an M.S. (Veterinary Physiology) from Texas A&M Veterinary College in 1975, and a Ph.D. (Physiology) from Wake Forest University in 1979. Post-doctoral fellow at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Department of Physiology and Biophysics, from 1978-1980. Joined the Physiology and Biophysics faculty of the University of Mississippi School of Medicine in 1980. Joined the faculty of the Wake Forest School of Medicine in 1982 in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology. Primary appointment in Orthopaedic Surgery in 1997, with adjunct appointments in Physiology and Pharmacology, Molecular Medicine, Neuroscience, Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, and the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

SYNOPSIS OF AREA OF INTEREST: The overall areas of interest in this laboratory are microcirculation of thermoregulation and inflammation, hemodynamics, peripheral nerve injury and repair, skeletal muscle adaptation to injury, diabetes, microsurgery, wound care, and tissue reconstruction.

DETAILED AREA OF INTEREST: Research in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery covers many disciplines. Current projects in collaboration with the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine include the following:

  1. The use of tissue engineered constructs for repair of significant peripheral nerve gaps following injury. Small silastic conduits are filled with keratose gels and used to repair tibial nerve gaps in mice. These preliminary constructs result in improved nerve conduction velocity distal to the injury, increase amplitude of EMG, and improved muscle force generation with nerve stimulation. Murine models of nerve injury provide reproducible test beds for these engineered constructs.
  2. Tissue engineered allografts for ACL, tendon, and meniscus repairs. Techniques for decellularizing and repopulating these allograft tissues are being developed to reduce immunogenicity and improve graft incorporation and remodeling by the recipient. Engineered structures then can be implanted in appropriate animal models (sheep, rabbit, mice) to evaluate in vivo incorporation.
  3. Murine models of myocardial infarction to test stem cell therapies utilizing coronary artery ligations performed as survival surgeries in mice. These ligations produce predictable lesions of the myocardium which can subsequently be injected with myocardial progenitor cells in an effort to reduce the degree of myocardial deficits accompanying infarction. Assessment of cardiac function in the mice to determine myocardial recovery with and without therapy is performed using ventricular pressure-volume loops and ultrasound imaging.  

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Institute for Regenerative Medicine

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