Lucas Robert Smith, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor



Biomedical Engineering



Locations and Contact

Additional Numbers

Physician Referrals

800-4-UCDAVIS (800-482-3284)

Research/Academic Interests

Dr. Smith’s research lab is focused on understanding the mechanisms by which skeletal muscle adapts, with an emphasis on the fibrotic processes that are associated with many muscle pathologies including muscular dystrophies. The lab seeks to uncover the relationship between the structure of the extracellular matrix and both the mechanical function of muscle and the regenerative capacity of muscle stem cells. The goal of the lab is to develop strategies to enhance muscle growth and function in order to treat neuromuscular diseases.


Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Undergraduate School

B.S., University of Washington, Seattle WA 2003

Other School

Ph.D., Bioengineering, UC San Diego, La Jolla CA 2011


Physiology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia CA 2011-2018

Individual Biomedical Research Award, Hartwell Foundation, 2020

K99 Fellowship, NIH-NIAMS, 2016

T32 Fellowship, Pennsylvania Muscle Institute, NIH-NIAMS, 2011

Siebel Scholar Award, Siebel Foundation, 2010

Med-into-Grad Fellowship, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 2018

National Defense, Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship, DoD, 2007

Langer HT, Mossakowski AA, Avey AM, Wohlgemuth RP, Smith LR, Zbinden-Foncea H, Baar K. A mutation in desmin makes skeletal muscle less vulnerable to acute muscle damage after eccentric loading in rats. FASEB J. 2021 Sep;35(9):e21860. doi:10.1096/fj.202100711RR. PMID:34411340.

Hu LY, Mileti CJ, Loomis T, Brashear SE, Ahmad S, Chellakudam RR, Wohlgemuth RP, Gionet-Gonzales MA, Leach JK, Smith LR. Skeletal muscle progenitors are sensitive to collagen architectural features of fibril size and cross linking. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2021 Aug 1;321(2):C330-C342. doi:10.1152/ajpcell.00065.2021. Epub 2021 Jun 30. PMID:34191625.

Smith LR, Pichika R, Meza RC, Gillies AR, Baliki MN, Chambers HG, Lieber RL. Contribution of extracellular matrix components to the stiffness of skeletal muscle contractures in patients with cerebral palsy. Connect Tissue Res. 2021 May;62(3):287-298. doi:10.1080/03008207.2019.1694011. Epub 2019 Nov 28. PMID:31779492.

Brashear SE, Wohlgemuth RP, Gonzalez G, Smith LR. Passive stiffness of fibrotic skeletal muscle in mdx mice relates to collagen architecture. J Physiol. 2021 Feb;599(3):943-962. doi:10.1113/JP280656. Epub 2020 Dec 18. PMID:33247944.

Chen D, Smith LR, Khandekar G, Patel P, Yu CK, Zhang K, Chen CS, Han L, Wells RG. Distinct effects of different matrix proteoglycans on collagen fibrillogenesis and cell-mediated collagen reorganization. Sci Rep. 2020 Nov 4;10(1):19065. doi:10.1038/s41598-020-76107-0. PMID:33149218.

Smith LR, Meyer GA. Skeletal muscle explants: ex-vivo models to study cellular behavior in a complex tissue environment. Connect Tissue Res. 2020 May-Jul;61(3-4):248-261. doi:10.1080/03008207.2019.1662409. Epub 2019 Sep 6. Review. PMID:31492079.

Smith LR, Kok HJ, Zhang B, Chung D, Spradlin RA, Rakoczy KD, Lei H, Boesze-Battaglia K, Barton ER. Matrix Metalloproteinase 13 from Satellite Cells is Required for Efficient Muscle Growth and Regeneration. Cell Physiol Biochem. 2020 Apr 11;54(3):333-353. doi:10.33594/000000223. PMID:32275813.

Kestenbaum B, Gamboa J, Liu S, Ali AS, Shankland E, Jue T, Giulivi C, Smith LR, Himmelfarb J, de Boer IH, Conley K, Roshanravan B. Impaired skeletal muscle mitochondrial bioenergetics and physical performance in chronic kidney disease. JCI Insight. 2020 Mar 12;5(5). doi:10.1172/jci.insight.133289. PMID:32161192.

Barton ER, Pham J, Brisson BK, Park S, Smith LR, Liu M, Tian Z, Hammers DW, Vassilakos G, Sweeney HL. Functional muscle hypertrophy by increased insulin-like growth factor 1 does not require dysferlin. Muscle Nerve. 2019 Oct;60(4):464-473. doi:10.1002/mus.26641. Epub 2019 Jul 30. PMID:31323135.