Dr. George P. Smith understands that scientific discoveries don’t happen in isolation: Researchers build on each other’s ideas, no matter where in the world they study.


In October, Smith, a Curators Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences at the University of Missouri, was among a trio of researchers from the United States and England that The Royal Swedish Academy of Science awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in chemistry.


Smith is the first MU professor to receive a Nobel Prize for his work conducted at MU. His achievement, dubbed “harnessing the power of evolution” by Nobel officials, also represents the first Nobel Prize awarded within the University of Missouri System. His research has led to the production of new antibodies used to cure metastatic cancer and counteract autoimmune diseases, among other things.


A modest man by nature, Smith believes science is a web of ideas and that breakthroughs come as the result of many scientists’ work.


“I don’t know if I particularly want to say that I am proud personally of this award because as I think all Nobel laureates understand, they are in the middle of a huge web of science, of influence and ideas, of research and results that impinge on them and that emanate from them,” he said shortly after receiving the award.


MU Chancellor Alexander N. Cartwright has said Smith’s work demonstrates how MU faculty members are shaping how research is conducted and how advancements are made in the world of research.


UM System President Mun Y. Choi has said Smith’s recognition is “a testament to how UM System faculty are tackling the grand challenges facing Missourians, the nation, and the world. The Nobel Prize represents Dr. Smith’s decades of hard work, innovation and leadership in biological sciences and the collaborations he continues to establish worldwide.”

Smith shares the prize with two other researchers, Frances Arnold of the California Institute of Technology, who was awarded half of the 9-million-kronor ($1.01 million) prize, and Gregory Winter of the M.R.C. molecular biology lab in Cambridge, England, who splits the other half with Smith.


Smith, who was born in Norwalk, Connecticut, in 1941, joined the faculty of the MU College of Arts and Science in the Division of Biological Sciencesin 1975. He was appointed a Curators Distinguished Professor in 2000 and became a professor emeritus in 2015. Smith has focused much of his research on the generation of genetic diversity. He has authored and coauthored more than 50 articles in top scientific journals, and he was selected by the American Society of Microbiology for its 2007 Promega Biotechnology Research Award. He retired in 2015.



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