David V Smith
On Sept. 30, 2006, David V. Smith, PhD succumbed to a brain tumor at the age of 63. Smith was Simon R. Bruesch Professor and Chair of the Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology and the Director of the Neuroscience Institute at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC). He is survived by his loving wife, Michiko Smith, and three children, Bryan Smith, Laurie Lundy, and Charles Smith.
Born in Memphis, Tenn., on April 21, 1943, Smith received BS (1965) and MA (1967) degrees in psychology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a PhD in psychobiology from the University of Pittsburgh in 1969. His PhD advisor was Donald H. McBurney. After completing his doctorate, Smith embarked on a postdoctoral fellowship with Carl Pfaffman at The Rockefeller University.
Smith established his first laboratory in 1971 as an assistant professor in the University of Wyoming Department of Psychology. There he rose to tenured professor before moving to the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Cincinnati in 1984, where he served as professor until 1994. From 1994-2002, he served as a professor in anatomy and neurobiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and as Vice Chair from 1997-2002. David returned to Memphis in 2002 to lead anatomy and neurobiology and the Neuroscience Institute at UTHSC.
During his career, Smith authored over 130 publications, mentored many students and fellows, held editorial posts (including Executive Editor of Chemical Senses from 2001 - 2006) and served both the NSF and NIH in review and administrative capacities. He was a founding member of the Association for Chemoreception Sciences in 1983, and served as its Executive Chair in 1985.
During his distinguished career, Smith's abiding passion was the study of sensory coding. His pervasive goal was to understand how taste information is extracted by gustatory receptor cells and encoded into neural activity, how this code is maintained during receptor cell turnover and synaptogenesis, and how these processes lead to taste perception. His work was multidisciplinary, spanning human psychophysics, animal behavior, electrophysiology (both in vivo and in vitro), and neuroanatomy. His studies were characterized by clear conceptualization, experimental rigor, and a mathematical bent.
Smith created a collegial and productive atmosphere in his laboratory and in the department. His unwavering support enhanced numerous careers and created lasting friendships. He had a fine sense of duty, honor, and humor, as well as an artistic flair.
Among the many honors and awards Smith collected throughout his career were the Claude Pepper (1989-1991) and Jacob K. Javits Neuroscience (1984-1991) awards from the NIH, the Frito-Lay Award for Excellence in Taste Research (1994), and the Mannheimer Lectureship (Lifetime Achievement Award) from Monell Chemical Senses Center (2004).
Those wishing to honor Smith may donate to the David V. Smith fund:
University of Tennessee Health Science Center
62 S. Dunlap, Suite 500
Memphis, TN 38163
Make checks payable to UT Health Science Center and indicate on the check David V. Smith fund.