Orthomolecular Medicine Hall of FameInducted 2022
David Smith has spent his entire academic career at the University of Oxford, beginning as a student of biochemistry in 1963 and years later ascending to Chair and Head of Pharmacology at Oxford and Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall from 1984-2005. Dr. Smith was founding Chief Editor for the International Brain Research Organization’s journal Neuroscience from 1976 to 2001, and was deservedly awarded the Gaddum prize medal of the British Pharmacological Society in 1979.
Smith co-founded the Oxford Project to Investigate Memory and Aging (OPTIMA), which has pioneered the study of the prevention of cognitive decline and brain atrophy by identifying modifiable risk factors.
In 1998, Smith Group discovered that elevated plasma homocysteine and low-normal concentrations of B vitamins (folate, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6) are critical risk factors for the development of pathologically-confirmed Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. This novel discovery led to the development of VITACOG, a two-year randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial designed to determine if lowering plasma homocysteine concentrations through the administration of high doses of supplementary B vitamins (folic acid, vitamins B6 and B12) over two years would slow the rate of brain atrophy of in elderly subjects with mild cognitive impairment, a predictor of dementia. The results were striking; it was found that the accelerated rate of brain atrophy in elderly with mild cognitive impairment can be significant reduced by over 53% by treatment with homocysteine-lowering B vitamins.
In more recent years, Smith and colleagues research concerns the association between plasma cysteine and obesity. In 2008 they found that high plasma cysteine was associated with an increased fat mass in a study on 5,000 Norwegian people, which has no been confirmed in other cohorts. They are now testing whether specific diets or treatments that lower cysteine in animals will reduce fat mass with the aim to carry human clinical trials in the future.
Smith is a true visionary and scholar within the field of orthomolecular medicine, earning him a lasting position in the Orthomolecular Medicine Hall of Fame.