Mark A. Smith, Ph.D., FRCPath (deceased)


We were deeply saddened by the unexpected death of Mark A. Smith on December 19, 2010. He is survived by his wife, Gemma, his sons, his father, sisters, his lab family, as well as numerous friends and colleagues. Mark was a devoted husband and father, beloved colleague, dedicated mentor, and dear friend to so many. This memorial site is dedicated to commemorating Mark's contributions to CWRU as a faculty and researcher. For more detailed information on his scholarly activity, please also visit the other memorial site set up in his honor:

Dr. Mark A. Smith received his B.Sc. with Honors in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from Hatfield College, Durham University, England (1986). He went on to earn a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Nottingham University, England, in 1990. Dr. Smith spent the next two years as a Research Fellow at Sandoz Forschungsinstitut in Vienna, Austria before joining CWRU in 1992. Dr. Smith was Professor of Pathology and Director of Basic Science Research of the University Memory and Cognition Center, and also served as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and Executive Director of the American Aging Association.

More details available at:

Dr. Smith was the recipient of several awards including the Ruth Salta Junior Investigator Achievement Award from the American Health Assistance Foundation, Young Scientist Lectureship Award from the International Society for Neurochemistry, the Nathan Shock New Investigator Award from The Gerontological Society of America, the Zenith Award from the Alzheimer's Association, the Jordi Folch-Pi Award from the American Society of Neurochemistry, the Hermann-Esterbauer Award from the HNE Society, the Denham Harman Award from the American Aging Association, the Goudie Lecture and Medal from the Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland, the National Plaque of Honor for World Leadership in Neuroscience from the Republic Panama Ministry of Science and Technology, the ASIP Outstanding Investigator Award from the Society for Investigative Pathology, and (posthumously) the Alzheimer Award for the best article from the previous year by the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. Dr. Smith was also honored as a Fellow of the American Aging Association, the Royal College of Pathologists, the Royal Society of Medicine, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAA).

Teaching and Mentoring at CWRU
Dr. Smith was deeply dedicated to the teaching and mentoring of students and faculty at CWRU. In addition to organizing and teaching several classes to undergraduate, graduate, and medical students, Dr. Smith was a member of several training programs within the university. Additionally, he was eager to mentor young faculty and took several under his wings, guiding them through the ranks. He also hosted a number of faculty (including a Fulbright Scholar) and postdoctoral students from around the world, who completed sabbaticals and fellowships in his laboratory. Dr. Smith trained several graduate students and served on the committees of many predoctoral students, not just at CWRU but from other universities around the globe.

His true passion though was the mentoring of young students and he could never say "no" to an eager undergraduate wanting to train under his guidance. Many undergraduates passed through his laboratory and learned much more than just techniques. Dr. Smith infected them with his passion for science and pushed them to think critically. He gave them the freedom to design their own projects and pursue what interested them, not just assign them rote experiments. Most undergraduates ended up with one or two primary data publications as first author after working with Dr. Smith, learning the whole process of taking an idea to a completed, published work.

He was recognized for these contributions with, among others, the Outstanding Mentor Award, School of Graduate Studies, the Michael E. Lamm Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching, and the 2009 J. Bruce Jackson, M.D., Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Mentoring, Case Western Reserve University.

Last but not least, Dr. Smith volunteered his time to work with local high school students, through the Scientific Enrichment and Opportunity Program (SEO) at CWRU, involving them in the first-rate research of his laboratory. These students were expected to perform experiments, record their results in a lab notebook, and read research papers, just like any other undergraduate or graduate student would do. Dr. Smith helped them through it all and many students kept in touch, keeping him informed of their progress through graduation and matriculation in college. Additionally, each year, he gave a presentation to all students in the program, encouraging and inspiring them toward a career in science. His dedication to the SEO was so evident, that upon his death, his wife requested that donations be made to the program to set up a fund used to award outstanding students participating in the program. In 2011, four students were given the first ever Mark A. Smith Award, which is planned to be an ongoing event.

Service at CWRU
Dr. Smith was also dedicated to service at CWRU and served on numerous committees including the Honorary Degree Committee, Committee to Review Standing Committees, Faculty Council (Member and Chair), Steering Committee of Faculty Council, Committee on Students, Graduate Program Education and Advisory Committee, Bylaws Committee, University Center on Aging and Health, Science Enrichment and Opportunity Program Selection Committee, Research ShowCASE Steering Committee, American Association of University Professors (President of CWRU Chapter), Faculty Senate Compensation Committee (Member and Chair), Faculty Senate Budget Committee, Faculty Senate Executive Committee, Faculty Senate Benefits Committee, Committee on Appointments, Promotion, and Tenure, Search Committee for the Weidenthal Chair, MD/MS Program Oversight Committee for Biomedical Investigation, Interviewing Committee, Memory and Aging Center Task Force, Nominating Committee, and Doctoral Excellence Award Committee, along with several committees in the Department of Pathology.

Community Service
Dr. Smith was very involved in the community and gave numerous lectures at Alzheimer centers around the Cleveland area and served on the Professional Advisory Board of the Cleveland Area Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association. In 2004, he was given a Community Service Award from the Cleveland Area Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association. Dr. Smith also organized a team and participated in the Alzheimer's Association Memory Walk, raising money for the local chapter.

The focus of Dr. Smith's research involved investigating the pathological mechanism(s) underlying selective neuronal death in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. He employed a variety of techniques ranging from histological to molecular biological to cellular models, encompassing diagnostic, mechanistic, and therapeutic strategies. Projects were directed toward 1) fundamental metabolic alterations; 2) homeostatic dysregulation of transition metals; 3) signal transduction alterations; and 4) inappropriate re-entry into the cell cycle.

Dr. Smith authored over 900 peer-reviewed manuscripts and chapters and, with over 23,000 citations, was recognized as one of the most highly published and cited researchers in the fields of Neuroscience & Behavior, Alzheimer Disease, Free Radical Biology, and Biology and Biochemistry. Dr. Smith was the #3 researcher in the field of Alzheimer's disease.

Finally, Dr. Smith received millions of dollars in research funds from several agencies including the National Institutes of Health, the American Federation of Aging Research, the American Philosophical Society, the American Health Assistance Foundation, the Alzheimer's Association, and the John Douglas French Alzheimer's Foundation, in addition to research funds from pharmaceutical companies. He also served as co-investigator or consultant on numerous other awards to his many collaborators.