Barbara D. Smith, PhD

Emeritus Professor, Biochemistry & Cell Biology

Barbara Smith
72 E. Concord St Silvio Conte (K)


Dr. Smith is Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry at Chobanian and Avedisian School of Medicine. Her research interests include- collagen gene expression associated with inflammation, atherosclerosis, tumors, and fibrotic diseases including systemic sclerosis. Collagen, a family of extracellular proteins, plays a critical role in remodeling after injury. Progressive deposition of excess extracellular matrix (ECM), occurs in a large group of diseases with no effective therapy including cardiovascular disease, pulmonary fibrosis, diabetic nephropathy, systemic sclerosis, and liver cirrhosis. Fibrosis (excessive scarring) is a progressive deposition of excess collagen-rich extracellular matrix produced by activated myofibroblasts leading to impairment and finally failure of affected organs. In normal healing following injury, fibroblasts differentiate into myofibroblasts. If progression to fibrosis occurs, these myofibroblasts do not undergo apoptosis but instead continue to proliferate and produce excess amounts of ECM. Isolated primary fibroblasts from fibrotic lesions maintain their activated myofibroblast phenotype containing abundant stress fibers with smooth muscle actin (SMA). Myocardin related transcription factors (MRTF-A, MRTF-B), members of the myocardin family, link actin dynamics with gene transcription. Our data indicate that MRTF-A dramatically (100 fold) activates collagen transcription. Fibroblasts with knockdown of MRTFA have different morphology and produce less collagen and SMA. We hypothesize that MRTFA plays a central role in activation and perpetuation of myofibroblast during the development of fibrotic disease.

Other Positions

  • Member, Evans Center for Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research, Boston University
  • Graduate Faculty (Primary Mentor of Grad Students), Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine, Graduate Medical Sciences


  • Boston University, PhD
  • Boston University, MS
  • Simmons College, BS


  • Published on 1/1/2016

    Tam A, Xu S, Lopez H, Ahmed B, Khan K, Rosario H, Arumalla N, Gibson M, Denton C, Abraham D, Smith BD, Stratton RJ. O42 Investigating Mechanical Stress-Responsive Macrophages in Scleroderma. Rheumatology. 2016; 55(suppl 1):i54-i55.

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  • Published on 1/1/2016

    Tam A, Shiwen X, Lopez H, Khan K, Ahmed-Abdi B, Rosario H, Arumalla N, Gibson M, Denton C, Abraham D, Smith BD, Stratton RJ. SAT0193 Macrophages Responding To Mechanical Stress in Scleroderma. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. 2016; 75(suppl 2):738.

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  • Published on 5/8/2015

    Shiwen X, Stratton R, Nikitorowicz-Buniak J, Ahmed-Abdi B, Ponticos M, Denton C, Abraham D, Takahashi A, Suki B, Layne MD, Lafyatis R, Smith BD. A Role of Myocardin Related Transcription Factor-A (MRTF-A) in Scleroderma Related Fibrosis. PLoS One. 2015; 10(5):e0126015. PMID: 25955164.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 1/8/2015

    McDonald ME, Li C, Bian H, Smith BD, Layne MD, Farmer SR. Myocardin-related transcription factor A regulates conversion of progenitors to beige adipocytes. Cell. 2015 Jan 15; 160(1-2):105-18. PMID: 25579684.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 1/1/2014

    Stratton RJ, Xu S, Nikitorowicz J, Abdi-Ahmed B, Ponticos M, Denton CP, Abraham D, Smith BD. 309. Investigating the Role of MRTF-A in Systemic Sclerosis. Rheumatology. 2014; 53(suppl 1):i175.

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  • Published on 1/1/2014

    Ponticos, M., and B.D. Smith. Journal of biomedical research. Extracellular matrix synthesis in vascular disease: hypertension, and atherosclerosis. 2014; 28(1):25-39..

  • Published on 12/16/2013

    Tumelty KE, Smith BD, Nugent MA, Layne MD. Aortic carboxypeptidase-like protein (ACLP) enhances lung myofibroblast differentiation through transforming growth factor ß receptor-dependent and -independent pathways. J Biol Chem. 2014 Jan 31; 289(5):2526-36. PMID: 24344132.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 9/20/2013

    Ponticos M, Smith BD. Extracellular matrix synthesis in vascular disease: hypertension, and atherosclerosis. J Biomed Res. 2014 Jan; 28(1):25-39. PMID: 24474961.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 11/2/2011

    Luchsinger LL, Patenaude CA, Smith BD, Layne MD. Myocardin-related transcription factor-A complexes activate type I collagen expression in lung fibroblasts. J Biol Chem. 2011 Dec 23; 286(51):44116-25. PMID: 22049076.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 8/12/2010

    Xu Y, Luchsinger L, Lucey EC, Smith BD. The effect of class II transactivator mutations on bleomycin-induced lung inflammation and fibrosis. Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2011 Jun; 44(6):898-905. PMID: 20705943.

    Read at: PubMed

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