Portrait of Dr Alan Smith Dr Alan Smith

a.m.smith@hud.ac.uk | 01484 472305


Dr Smith is a Reader in Biopolymer Materials.  He graduated from Salford University (Biochemical Science) in 1997 before gaining his PhD from Cranfield University developing polysaccharide substitutes for gelatin in the production of pharmaceutical capsules under the supervision of Prof. Ed Morris. Following his PhD Dr Smith worked for 2 years as a formulation scientist within the pharmaceutical industry before taking up a position as a polysaccharide chemist at Industrial Research Limited, Wellington, New Zealand. On his return to the UK Dr. Smith has worked as a research fellow at the University of Birmingham (School of Dentistry) and Aston University (School of Pharmacy) developing 3D cell scaffolds and polysaccharide based drug delivery systems. In 2008 he joined the tissue regeneration and interface laboratory within Chemical Engineering at the University of Birmingham where he continued to develop his research on biopolymers for tissue engineering and drug delivery applications before being appointed as a Senior Lecturer in Pharmaceutics at the University of Huddersfield in March 2011 and then promoted to Reader in 2016.

Research and Scholarship

Dr Smith’s research group focuses on pharmaceutical and medical applications of biopolymers. Biopolymers are a versatile class of materials which exhibit easily tailorable properties that are advantageous in developing bio-responsive drug delivery systems and functional cell culture substrates.

3D Suspended Manufacturing of Complex Tissues

Polysaccharides hydrogels provide an extremely mild and simple route to 3D cell immobilisation providing the cells with an environment that is similar to natural extracellular matrix. In collaboration with the University of Birmingham Dr Smith is developing methods to enable the culture of multiple cell types from mesenchymal stem cells within a single 3D structure. Using a novel suspended manufacturing 3D printing technique it is possible to produce complex cell-laden structures with high-levels of spatial control over mechanical and chemical properties. The potential of this method for producing complicated tissues was recently demonstrated by manufacturing an osteochondral structure with a hard/soft tissue interface that contained autologous cells and that maintained their phenotype following tissue culture

Physiologically Responsive Biopolymers

The ability to retain a drug or cells at the site of action is an important consideration for many localised applications such as wound healing and ocular drug delivery. Biopolymers in particular, can interact with physiological secretions via physical interactions allowing sustained delivery of therapeutic molecules. Currently, Dr Smith is developing methods to measure sol-gel transitions in situ and investigating how modification of various biopolymers can enhance bioadhesion and increase drug retention time.

Fluid Gels as Modified Release Drug Delivery Systems

The ability to modify release of a drug from liquid formulations is a particularly challenging when designing age appropriate dosage forms. Currently, we are trying to overcome this problem by investigating encapsulating drugs in polysaccharide fluid gels (also referred to as sheared gels). Fluid gels are produced by introducing a shear field while a gelation reaction is occurring in biopolymer solutions. This results in the production of suspensions of gel particles which can be formulated so the bulk material acts as a pourable viscoelastic fluid whilst retaining a cross-linked gel microstructure within the particles (Fig 3). By careful selection of the biopolymers used formulations can be developed to physically respond to physiological secretions at specific locations within the body. These interactions can be used to promote targeted drug release which we have recently applied to modified release oral liquids, mucoadhesive nasal sprays, and enhanced topical delivery.

Polysaccharide Extraction Characterisation and Application

Dr Smith’s group are also interested in the fundamental chemical and physical properties polysaccharides extracted from plants native to sub Saharan Africa. Funded by Royal Society (Newton Fellowships) this theme is designed to address issues of people within developing countries that cannot afford modern medicines due to the high cost of expensive imported raw materials. Many of these counties however, have an abundance of natural resources from which materials can be extracted that provide an equivalent or even an improved function. By revealing the chemical and physical properties of these polysaccharides we hope to promote their use in pharmaceutical and biomedical applications.  This work is carried out in collaboration with academics at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand and University of Jos Nigeria.

Other research commitments

  • Guest Editor for Food Hydrocolloids “Special Issue: Bridging the Divide between Food and Pharma”
  • Member of the editorial board for the Journal of Biomaterials Applications, British Journal of Pharmacy and Drug Delivery Letters
  • Co-founder and Chair 1st UK Hydrocolloids Symposium
  • Reviewer for more than thirty journals
  • Reviewer for the MRC, Orthopaedic Research UK, EU FP7
  • Member of UK Society for Biomaterials
  • Member of UKICRS


Please see Dr Smith's Research Page for more details

Publications and Other Research Outputs


Ghori, M., Mohammad, M., Rudrangi, S., Fleming, L., Merchant, H., Smith, A. and Conway, B. (2017) ‘Impact of purification on physicochemical, surface and functional properties of okra biopolymerFood Hydrocolloids . ISSN 0268-005X

Moxon, S., Cooke, M., Cox, S., Smow, M., Jeys, L., Jones, S., Grover, L. and Smith, A. (2017) ‘Suspended manufacture of biological structuresAdvanced Materials . ISSN 0935-9648


Mahdi, M., Conway, B., Mills, T. and Smith, A. (2016) ‘Gellan Gum Fluid Gels for Topical Administration of DiclofenacInternational Journal of Pharmaceutics , 515 (1-2), pp. 535-542. ISSN 0378-5173

Hejjaji, E., Smith, A. and Morris, G. (2016) ‘Designing chitosan-tripolyphosphate microparticles with desired size for specific pharmaceutical or forensic applicationsInternational Journal of Biological Macromolecules , 95, pp. 564-573. ISSN 0141-8130

Scholes, S., Colledge, C., Naylor, A., Mahdi, M., Smith, A. and Joyce, T. (2016) ‘Potential Synthetic Biolubricant as an Alternative to Bovine SerumLubricants , 4 (4), p. 38. ISSN 2075-4442

Nep, E., Asare-Addo, K., Ngwuluka, N., Conway, B. and Smith, A. (2016) ‘Evaluation of sesamum gum as an excipient in matrix tabletsBritish Journal of Pharmacy , 1 (1). ISSN 2058-8356

Nep, E., Carnachan, S., Ngwuluka, N., Kontogiorgos, V., Morris, G., Sims, I. and Smith, A. (2016) ‘Structural characterisation and rheological properties of a polysaccharide from sesame leaves (Sesamum radiatum Schumach. & Thonn.)Carbohydrate Polymers , 152, pp. 541-547. ISSN 0144-8617

Abodinar, A., T´┐Żmmeraas, K., Ronander, E., Smith, A. and Morris, G. (2016) ‘The physicochemical characterisation of pepsin degraded pig gastric mucinInternational Journal of Biological Macromolecules , 87, pp. 281-286. ISSN 0141-8130

Smith, A., Moxon, S. and Morris, G. (2016) ‘Biopolymers as wound healing materials’. In: Wound Healing Biomaterials - Volume 2: Functional Biomaterials. : Woodhead Publishing: an imprint of Elsevier. pp. 261-287. ISBN 978-0-08-100606-1

Moxon, S. and Smith, A. (2016) ‘Controlling the rheology of gellan gum hydrogels in cell culture conditionsInternational Journal of Biological Macromolecules , 84, pp. 79-86. ISSN 01418130

Nep, E., Sims, I., Kontogiorgos, V., Morris, G. and Smith, A. (2016) ‘Evaluation of some important physicochemical properties of starch free grewia gumFood Hydrocolloids , 53, pp. 134-140. ISSN 0268-005X


Nep, E., Asare-Addo, K., Ghori, M., Conway, B. and Smith, A. (2015) ‘Starch-free grewia gum matrices: Compaction, swelling, erosion and drug release behaviourInternational Journal of Pharmaceutics , 496 (2), pp. 689-698. ISSN 03785173

Ghori, M., Mahdi, M., Smith, A. and Conway, B. (2015) ‘Nasal Drug Delivery Systems: An OverviewAmerican Journal of Pharmacological Sciences , 3 (5), pp. 110-119. ISSN 2327-6711

Ghori, M., Moxon, S., Smith, A. and Conway, B. (2015) ‘Healthcare Applications of Okra Biopolymer’. In: 2nd UK Hydrocolloid Symposium, 10th September 2015, University of Birmingham

Kontogiorgos, V., Smith, A. and Morris, G. (2015) ‘The parallel lives of polysaccharides in food and pharmaceutical formulationsCurrent Opinion in Food Science , 4, pp. 13-18. ISSN 2214-7993

Mahdi, M., Conway, B. and Smith, A. (2015) ‘Development of mucoadhesive sprayable gellan gum fluid gelsInternational Journal of Pharmaceutics , 488 (1-2), pp. 12-19. ISSN 0378-5173

Diryak, R., Mahdi, M., Kontogiorgos, V., Morris, G. and Smith, A. (2015) ‘In situ rheological measurements of the external gelation of alginateFood Hydrocolloids , 55, pp. 77-80. ISSN 0268-005X

Thompson, M., Hunt, B., Smith, A. and Joyce, T. (2015) ‘Wear Tests of a Potential Biolubricant for Orthopedic BiopolymersLubricants , 3 (2), pp. 80-90. ISSN 2075-4442

Smith, A., Paxton, J., Hung, Y., Hadley, M., Bowen, J., Williams, R. and Grover, L. (2015) ‘Nanoscale crystallinity modulates cell proliferation on plasma sprayed surfacesMaterials Science and Engineering: C , 48, pp. 5-10. ISSN 09284931


Ghori, M., Alba, K., Smith, A., Conway, B. and Kontogiorgos, V. (2014) ‘Okra Extracts In Pharmaceutical And Food ApplicationsFood Hydrocolloids , 42 (3), pp. 342-347. ISSN 0268-005X

Morris, G., Smith, A. and Kontogiorgos, V. (2014) ‘Editorial: Special Issue of Food Hydrocolloids: Bridging the DivideFood Hydrocolloids , 42 (3), p. 317. ISSN 0268-005X

Mahdi, M., Conway, B. and Smith, A. (2014) ‘Evaluation of gellan gum fluid gels as modified release oral liquidsInternational Journal of Pharmaceutics , 475 (1-2), pp. 335-343. ISSN 0378-5173

Nep, E., Ghori, M., Ngwuluka, N., Conway, B. and Smith, A. (2014) ‘Physicochemical characterization of polysaccharides extracted from sesame leaves: a potential matrix for sustained release tablets’. In: The AAPS Annual Meeting and Exposition 2014, 2-6th November 2014, San Diego, USA

Ghori, M., Smith, A. and Conway, B. (2014) ‘Hydration and Erosion Properties of Cellulose Ethers’. In: The AAPS annual meeting and exposition, 2-6th November 2014, San Diego, CA, USA

Abodinar, A., Smith, A. and Morris, G. (2014) ‘A novel method to estimate the stiffness of carbohydrate polyelectrolyte polymers based on the ionic strength dependence of zeta potentialCarbohydrate Polymers , 112, pp. 6-9. ISSN 0144-8617

Ghori, M., Ginting, G., Smith, A. and Conway, B. (2014) ‘Simultaneous quantification of drug release and erosion from hypromellose hydrophilic matricesInternational Journal of Pharmaceutics , 465 (1-2), pp. 405-412. ISSN 0378-5173

Smith, A., Fleming, L., Wudebwe, U., Bowen, J. and Grover, L. (2014) ‘Development of a synovial fluid analogue with bio-relevant rheology for wear testing of orthopaedic implantsJournal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials , 32, pp. 177-184. ISSN 17516161


Asare-Addo, K., Mahdi, M. and Smith, A. (2013) ‘Development of modified release paediatric liquids’. In: 5th EuPFI Conference, 18th-19th Spain 2013, Barcelona, Spain , pp. 31-32

Ghori, M., Charlotte, G., S?upuk, E., Smith, A. and Conway, B. (2013) ‘Okra Gum as a Pharmaceutical Excipient’. In: 1st UK Hydrocolloids Symposium, 10th September 2013, University of Huddersfield


Jamshidi, P., Ma, P., Khosrowyar, K., Smith, A. and Grover, L. (2012) ‘Tailoring gel modulus using dispersed nanocrystalline hydroxyapatiteJournal of Experimental Nanoscience , 7 (6), pp. 652-661. ISSN 1745–8080

Smith, A., Hunt, N., Shelton, R., Birdi, G. and Grover, L. (2012) ‘Alginate hydrogel has a negative impact on in vitro collagen 1 deposition by fibroblastsBiomacromolecules , 13 (2), pp. 4032-4038. ISSN 1525-7797

Grover, L. and Smith, A. (2012) ‘Hydrocolloids and Medicinal Chemistry Applications. In Handbook of Biopolymers and Biodegradable Plastics’. In: Handbook of Biopolymers and Biodegradable Plastics. : Elsevier. pp. 365-384. ISBN 978-1-4557-2834-3

Birdi, G., Bridson, R., Smith, A., Bohari, S. and Grover, L. (2012) ‘Modification of alginate degradation properties using orthosilicic acidJournal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials , 6, pp. 181-187. ISSN 1751-6161


Smith, A (2011) ‘Degradation of polysaccharide hydrogels seeded with bone marrow stromal cellsJournal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials , 4 (7), pp. 1157-1166. ISSN 1751-6161

Buselli, E., Smith, A., Grover, L., Levi, A., Allman, R., Mattoli, V., Menciassi, A. and Beccai, L. (2011) ‘Development and characterization of a bio-hybrid skin-like stretchable electrodeMicroelectronic Engineering , 88 (8), pp. 1676-1680. ISSN 0167-9317

Smith, A (2011) ‘Inorganic Reinforcement of Alginate Hydrogel’. In: 2011 Materials Research Society Spring Meeting & Exhibit, 25th-29th April 2011, San Francisco, California

Smith, A. and Miri, T. (2011) ‘Alginates in Foods’. In: Practical food rheology: an interpretive approach. : Wiley. pp. 113-132. ISBN 9781444391060


Hunt, N., Smith, A., Gbureck, U., Shelton, R. and Grover, L. (2010) ‘Encapsulation of fibroblasts causes accelerated alginate hydrogel degradationActa Biomaterialia , 6 (9), pp. 3649-3656. ISSN 1742-7061

Mehrban, N., Hunt, N., Smith, A. and Grover, L. (2010) ‘A comparative study of iota carrageenan, kappa carrageenan and alginate hydrogels as tissue engineering scaffolds’. In: Gums and stabilisers for the food industry. : Royal Society of Chemistry. pp. 407-413. ISBN 9781847558312

Perrie, Y. and Smith, A.(2010) Enteric Pharmaceutical Capsules. US20100113620.

Smith, A., Jaime-Fonseca, M., Grover, L. and Bakalis, S. (2010) ‘Alginate-Loaded Liposomes Can Protect Encapsulated Alkaline Phosphatase Functionality When Exposed to Gastric pHJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry , 58 (8), pp. 4719-4724. ISSN 0021-8561

AlHusban, F., ElShaer, A., Kansara, J., Smith, A., Grover, L., Perrie, Y. and Mohammed, A. (2010) ‘Investigation of Formulation and Process of Lyophilised Orally Disintegrating Tablet (ODT) Using Novel Amino Acid CombinationPharmaceutics , 2 (1), pp. 1-17. ISSN 1999-4923

Smith, A., Ingham, A., Grover, L. and Perrie, Y. (2010) ‘Polymer film formulations for the preparation of enteric pharmaceutical capsulesJournal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology , 62 (2), pp. 167-172. ISSN 0022-3573


Mehrban, N., Smith, A. and Grover, L. (2009) ‘Evaluation of iota-carrageenan as a Potential Tissue Engineering Scaffold’. In: 8th World Congress of Chemical Engineering (WCCE8), August 23 to 27, 2009, Montréal, Canada

Grover, L. and Smith, A. (2009) ‘Hydrocolloids and Medicinal Chemistry Applications’. In: Modern Biopolymer Science: Bridging the Divide between Fundamental Treatise and Industrial Application. : Elsevier. pp. 595-618. ISBN 9780123741950

Chandrasekhar, R., Hassan, Z., AlHusban, F., Smith, A. and Mohammed, A. (2009) ‘The role of formulation excipients in the development of lyophilised fast-disintegrating tabletsEuropean Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics , 72 (1), pp. 119-129. ISSN 0939-6411

Smith, A., Grover, L., Jaime-Fonseca, M., Yahya, F. and Bakalis, S. (2009) ‘Encapsulation and Stability of bioactive proteins in gel loaded liposomes’. In: 5th International Symposium on Food Rheology and Structure, 2009, ETH Zurich


Clark, S., Cross, M., Smith, A., Court, P., Vipond, J., Nadian, A., Hewison, R., Batchelor, H., Perrie, Y., Williams, A., Aldwell, F. and Chambers, M. (2008) ‘Assessment of different formulations of oral Mycobacterium bovis Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine in rodent models for immunogenicity and protection against aerosol challenge with M. bovisVaccine , 26 (46), pp. 5791-5797. ISSN 0264-410X

Smith, A., Jarved, O., Batchelor, H. and Perrie, Y. (2008) ‘Bacille Calmette–Gue´ rin (BCG)-loaded alginate beads as a potential oral tuberculosis vaccine for wildlifeJournal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology , 60 (S1). ISSN 0022-3573

Harris, J., Smith, A., Campbell-Lynch, S. and Shelton, R. (2008) ‘Dramatic changes in bulk deformation behaviour of gellan gum on cross-linking with mixed cations’. In: Gums and Stabilisers for the Food Industry. : Royal Society of Chemistry. pp. 79-86. ISBN 9780854044610


Smith, A., Shelton, R., Perrie, Y. and Harris, J. (2007) ‘An Initial Evaluation of Gellan Gum as a Material for Tissue Engineering ApplicationsJournal of Biomaterials Applications , 22 (3), pp. 241-254. ISSN 0885-3282

Smith, A., Basra, A., Batchelor, H. and Perrie, Y. (2007) ‘Alginate Beads as Potential Oral Vaccine Delivery Platforms: Effect of CoatingJournal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology , 59 (s1), p. A55. ISSN 0022-3573

Agoub, A., Smith, A., Giannouli, P., Richardson, R. and Morris, E. (2007) ‘“Melt-in-the-mouth” gels from mixtures of xanthan and konjac glucomannan under acidic conditions: A rheological and calorimetric study of the mechanism of synergistic gelationCarbohydrate Polymers , 69 (4), pp. 713-724. ISSN 0144-8617

Smith, A., Harris, J., Shelton, R. and Perrie, Y. (2007) ‘3D culture of bone-derived cells immobilised in alginate following light-triggered gelationJournal of Controlled Release , 119 (1), pp. 94-101. ISSN 0168-3659


Smith, A., Harris, J., Shelton, R. and Perrie, Y. (2006) ‘3D Culture of bone-derived cells following light triggered gelation of alginate by Ca2+ release from photosensitive liposomesJournal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology , 58 (S1), p. A51. ISSN 0022-3573


Smith, A., Shelton, R., Harris, J. and Perrie, Y. (2005) ‘Formation of alginate hydrogel scaffolds for tissue engineering by light activated release of calcium from photosensitive liposomesJournal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology , 57 (S1), p. S42. ISSN 0022-3573

Research Degree Supervision

Opportunities for self funded PhD studies are available in the following research areas

  • Injectable cell culture substrates for tissue regeneration
  • Development of modified release oral liquid formulations for pediatrics
  • Developing bioresponsive hydrogels for tissue engineering applications

Applications are welcome from potential students with an interest in formulation development or the physicochemical properties of macromolecules.

Postgraduate research opportunities with Dr Alan Smith

Teaching and Professional Activities

  • Dr Smith is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, his current teaching responsibilities include:
  • Yr 4 MPharm year tutor
  • Module co-ordinator and Lecturer in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology and Advanced Drug Delivery for 4th year MPharm Drug design and Development module (M-Level)
  • Lecturer in Formulation and Pharmaceutics (Colloids and Rheology) 3rd Year MPharm (H-Level)
  • Lecturer MSc Analytical and Pharmaceutical Science (Particle Sizing and Rheology) (M-Level)
  • Lecturer in Critical Analysis for research projects 3rd Year MPharm (H-Level)
  • Visiting Lecturer in Pharmaceutical Containment at the University of Birmingham (M-Level)

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