Though small in numbers, stem cells are responsible for the continued production of blood cells throughout a person’s life. They are also responsible for regenerating the blood-forming system following a bone marrow transplant in people with leukemia and other blood diseases. While blood stem cell transplantation is a promising therapy, its use is currently restricted because researchers have not yet found a way to reproduce these cells in large enough numbers for effective transplantation. Dr. Clayton Smith’s research is devoted to developing a better understanding of blood-forming stem cells so they can be effectively isolated and manipulated. Using leading-edge bioengineering and computer-based technologies, he is systematically exploring how the body’s environment affects stem cell growth, to see if these conditions can be replicated outside the body. He is also studying the function of certain genes that may be important to stem cell growth. Ultimately, he hopes to learn enough about stem cells to be able to grow them in large numbers outside the body for use in blood stem cell transplantation.