Cancer Researcher Dr. Gilbert Howlett Smith ’59 Named 2011 Commencement Speaker

January 19, 2011

Hartwick College's 2011 Commencement speaker will be leading cancer researcher Dr. Gilbert Howlett Smith. A 1959 Hartwick graduate, Smith is the head senior investigator of mammary stem cell biology at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD. He will address the Class of 2011, their families, and the Hartwick community on May 28 in a ceremony that will begin at 11:30 a.m. on Elmore Field on campus.

"Dr. Smith exemplifies a life in education and humanitarian pursuits," noted Hartwick College President Dr. Margaret L. Drugovich. "A lifelong research scientist, Dr. Smith has had a remarkable career devoted to original research on the causes and prevention of breast cancer. He is an exemplar of not only the value of a Hartwick education, but the critical impact original scholarly research can have upon each of our lives."

Smith earned a B.A. in Biology from Hartwick and an M.Sc. and Ph.D from Brown University. His current research develops and investigates biological models designed to reveal the cellular, molecular, and genetic basis for breast cancer and focuses on using stem cells to induce cancer cells to become normal cells.

Smith began his career in 1960 as a research assistant at Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research. He joined the National Cancer Institute in 1965 after completing its Predoctoral Training Fellowship.

Through the past 45 years, Smith has held numerous positions at the National Cancer Institute, including research biologist, head of ultrastructural research, senior investigator in the laboratory of biology, senior investigator in molecular genetics, senior investigator in oncogenetics, and chief senior investigator in mammary stem cell biology.

Smith has received numerous awards for his work, including the 2005 National Institutes of Health Merit Award, the 2003 National Cancer Institute Mentor of Merit Award, and the 1996 Glenn Foundation Award. He is a two-time nominee for the E.B. Wilson Medal, the highest award from the American Society for Cell Biology given "for far-reaching contributions to cell biology over a lifetime in science." He received Hartwick College's Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2010.  

Evidence of Smith's participation in the global community of scientific research includes the production of 150 publications, both individually and with U.S. and international scientists; 16 published book chapters; and being a featured speaker at more than 50 medical schools, as well as national and international workshops and conferences.

Smith serves on the board of directors and is a scientific advisor of The Childhood Brain Tumor Foundation. He is a member of the American Society for Cell Biology, the American Society for Microbiology, and the American Association for Cancer Research, and he is a councilman of the Assembly of Scientists at the National Cancer Institute.

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,500 students, located in Oneonta, NY, in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick's expansive curriculum emphasizes a uniquely experiential approach to the liberal arts. Through personalized teaching, collaborative research, a unique January Term, a wide range of internships, and vast study-abroad opportunities, Hartwick ensures that students are prepared for the world ahead. A Three-Year Bachelor's Degree Program and strong financial aid and scholarship offerings keep a Hartwick education affordable.

Contact: Christopher Lott
Phone: 607-431-4030