Richard A. SmithRichard A. Smith, PhD

Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director,
UTHSC Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Biomedical Engineering 

A324 Coleman





Research Interests

Include cell culture and animal model investigations into causes of macrophage polarization, inflammatory diseases, total joint failure (osteolysis), bone healing, tendon to bone attachments and diseases that affect bone quality and quantity including sickle cell disease and hyperaldosteronism.  Our lab has made substantial contributions to the field of bone biology, specifically inflammation involved in bone disease. Our findings have provided other researchers in the field with a deeper understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying inflammation involved in bone biology. We have intensely studied the macrophage response to particles of various orthopaedic materials and interactions with endotoxins.  We have made several breakthroughs in this field. We established the theory that bacterial endotoxin can be accumulated on the surface of the wear debris through both in vitro and in vivo pathways and can be responsible for initiating the detrimental inflammatory responses that result in bone destruction around orthopaedic implants. We also found that macrophages have the ability to inactivate the endotoxin on the surface of the wear particles, even though these cells cannot degrade the particles. Our lab was one the first to demonstrate that macrophages have the potential to be utilized to prevent the development of osteolysis. Our laboratory results point out a new direction for the research of osteolysis and for products for start-up orthopaedic device companies.

Our laboratory is continuously looking for novel ways to optimize bone, cartilage and tendon healing.  We have published on the use of platelet rich plasma, cell injection, hydrogels and components that influence macrophage phenotype.  We have found that ticks mediate host immune responses using PGE2 and are currently studying its effects in converting macrophages (and neutrophils) from pro-inflammatory to anti-inflammatory phenotypes. Our lab has also investigated the effects of several metabolic disease states including hyperaldosteronism, cyclooxygenase deficiency, vitamin D derivatives and sickle cell disease on bone quality.  We have shown that hyperaldosteronism can severely effect bone mineral density and bone quality in a very short period of time.

Research funding from NIH, DOD, NSF, Industry and several foundations.

Ongoing Research Support

2017-2021:  “Chitosan Guided Bone Regeneration Membranes for Dual Local Delivery of Simvastatin and Raspberry Ketone”  NIH Award 1R01DE026759-01,  PI Dr. Joel Bumgardner (University of Memphis) with subaward to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Dr. Richard Smith serving as Co-Principal Investigator along with Dr. Franklin Garcia-Godoy.

Biographic Information

105 peer-reviewed scientific journal publications

147 peer-reviewed scientific presentations

38 invited speaker presentations

Society Memberships

  • Orthopaedic Research Society
  • American Society for Bone and Mineral Research
  • Biomedical Engineering Society
  • Society for Biomaterials

Ad Hoc Reviewer for 25 Scientific/Clinical Journals

Served on 36 Graduate student committees (5 as Chair) and trained, 3 Post-doctoral fellows, 21 Medical students (5 NIH summer students), 9 CLS Masters students and 18 Undergraduate students in my labs.