Internationally renowned researcher Gordon S. Smith, M.B., Ch.B., MPH, has joined the West Virginia University School of Public Health as the inaugural Stuart M. and Joyce N. Robbins Distinguished Professor in Epidemiology.
A longtime professor of epidemiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Smith is widely recognized for his expertise in injury research, occupational injuries and substance abuse epidemiology. He has received more than $14 million in grants and published nearly 180 peer-reviewed journal articles.
His funded research includes support from the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Department of Defense. His recent NIH-funded projects looked at long-term mortality outcomes in trauma patients and the role of hangovers in traffic crashes.
Smith also has a strong track record in mentoring faculty and students, WVU School of Public Health officials said, for which he was just recognized with the Faculty Mentoring Award by the Epidemiology and Human Genetics Program and Gerontology Program at the University of Maryland.
“I am very pleased that Dr. Gordon Smith is joining the Department of Epidemiology as the Stuart and Joyce N. Robbins Distinguished Professor of Epidemiology,” Dr. Thomas Hulsey, chair of the WVU School of Public Health Department of Epidemiology, said. “Dr. Smith brings a wealth of experience in teaching, research and mentoring to our program. He will be a fantastic resource for our students and a valued member of the faculty.”
Smith has a medical degree from the University of Otago Medical School in New Zealand and a master’s in public health from the Harvard School of Public Health. In addition, he trained at Wellington Hospital in New Zealand, Mater Children’s Hospital in Australia and as an epidemic intelligence officer and preventive medicine resident at the CDC in Atlanta.
Smith was part of the program to strengthen injury epidemiology research at the Shock, Trauma and Anesthesiology Research Organized Research Center at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Prior to that, he worked at the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, an occupational injury research center affiliated with the Harvard School of Public Health, and at The Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health (with joint appointments in Epidemiology and Emergency Medicine), where he developed and directed a National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health-sponsored program to train doctoral students in occupational injury epidemiology and prevention.
Smith said he looks forward to mentoring junior faculty as they compete for NIH grants and other funding as well as developing international collaborations through his ties with overseas researchers. One potential project involves the only trauma center in Qatar, where one of his former students is the director of prevention.
“We plan to develop a study of drug involvement in driving,” he said. “This is an opportunity to take advantage of the extensive laboratory testing capabilities their anti-doping laboratory has developed for testing athletes as they plan to host the upcoming World Cup soccer matches. To do full testing for drugs affecting driving is prohibitively expensive at a U.S. trauma center. However, I was able to work with their laboratory researchers who were happy to have an opportunity to test their equipment out well before the games start.”
Smith also hopes to leverage his connections in New Zealand and Australia for future research, and he is in discussion with a popular ride-sharing program to develop a study on the impact of the program on reducing drunken driving crashes, especially among young people.
His top priority, however, is helping to expand WVU’s research program to address the health needs of West Virginians.
“I am excited also about the opportunity to mentor junior faculty and develop the next generation of researchers who can take full advantage of the unique opportunities in West Virginia to conduct research that will make a real difference in improving the health of the people,” Smith said. “A program focusing on injury and drug abuse prevention could serve as a model for programs across the country.”
He is hopeful one of his recent grant proposals on drugs and driving will be funded as drug abuse and its consequences is a major problem in the state.
Stuart M. and Joyce N. Robbins Distinguished Professorship in Epidemiology.
The endowed professorship, a first for the School of Public Health, was established by a $1 million gift from WVU alumnus Stuart M. Robbins and his wife, Joyce, as a way to advance research in public health – particularly in the areas of injury and drug and alcohol abuse – in West Virginia. The West Virginia Research Trust Fund matched the gift, bringing the fund to $2 million.
The couple established the Center for Global Business and Strategy, a chair in history and several other funds and scholarships at WVU. They are members of the Woodburn Circle Society, the WVU Foundation’s highest level of donor recognition, and were named the WVU Foundation Philanthropists of the Year in 2012.
Stuart Robbins received a bachelor’s degree in history from WVU in 1965, and he studied law at New York University and business at the University of Pittsburgh and Pace University. He worked for Mellon Bank, Parker Hunter, C.S. McKee and Paine Webber before becoming managing director of global equities at Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette. Robbins has been a member of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences advisory board and the WVU Foundation Board of Directors, and he is a charter member and continues to serve on the School of Public Health Visiting Committee.
Joyce Robbins has a master’s in special education from the University of Pittsburgh, a master’s in business (accounting) from Pace University and a CPA certification. She is a former special education teacher and has held positions with Coopers & Lybrand and DataSwitch.