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Geisel School of Medicine Emeritus Professor Roger Smith Dies

"Roger P. Smith, Ph.D."
Pastel on Paper, by Robert E. Gosselin, M.D., Ph.D.

Roger P. Smith, PhD, Irene Heinz Given Professor of Pharmacology Emeritus at Geisel School of Medicine, died January 22, 2018.

Active throughout his retirement, Smith continued teaching his popular enrichment course, Medical Detectives, to medical students and in the community-based Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Dartmouth.

His byline had been a regular fixture in Dartmouth Medicine magazine for many years following his retirement in 2000, including a wry personal account of undergoing surgery. And for a number of years he also authored a column for Alumni News & Notes titled “Eye on Emeriti,” which highlighted the activities of emeritus faculty following their retirements.

Smith came to the medical school in 1960 and chaired the school’s Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology from 1975 to 1987, and was an adjunct professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth College since 1984. He held the Given Professorship from 1993 – 2000. He was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and an emeritus fellow of the Academy of Toxicological Sciences.

Bill Roebuck, PhD, emeritus professor of pharmacology and toxicology, who was hired by Smith, recalls teaching an undergraduate course together. “Starting in the early 1980s, Roger and I taught Environmental Health, a public health course in the environmental studies program at Dartmouth College for 10 years, and I’m still teaching that course,” he says. “It was quite popular at that time and we taught upwards of 100 students.

“Teaching with Roger was a lot of fun. I was an assistant professor in my formative years of teaching, and he hadn’t taught undergrads—we were both learning how to teach to them. It was good for both of us.”

Smith was immensely interested in helping people understand chemicals—how the products they buy contain chemicals that under certain conditions could be detrimental. “He wanted to educate people about pharmacology, specifically the potential adverse effects of chemicals, along with the good, in consumer products.

“He was very focused on how to get that information across to both undergraduates and medical students to get them engaged,” Roebuck says.

Ethan Dmitrovsky, president of the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, and emeritus professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Geisel, who was chair of the department from 1998 – 2013, says, “Roger Smith was a giant in the field of pharmacology, who generously gave of himself to his students, colleagues, and to the Geisel School of Medicine.  Generations of Dartmouth’s medical and graduate students have had their careers influenced by him.”

Information about funeral services will be shared at a later date. Contributions in his memory may be made to the Church of Christ at Dartmouth College, 40 College Street, Hanover, NH 03755.

To view an on-line memorial and/or send a message of condolence to the family, please visit www.rand-wilson.com.