The New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute has honored Dr. Leon Smith, one of the nation's leading infectious disease specialists, as the first recipient of a new award created in his honor: “The Leon G. Smith Lifetime of Public Health Service” award.
“Dr. Smith is the physician other doctors turn to when they have a medical mystery to solve,” said David L. Knowlton, chief executive of the institute. “His colleagues count on his abundant experience and encyclopedic mind. We are all better off because he remains a calm voice of reason when public anxiety threatens to override medical science in the care of patients with contagious diseases like Ebola.”
Smith, 85, is the former chairman of medicine and chief of infectious diseases at St. Michael’s Medical Center in Newark, where he worked for 50 years. His career spans five decades, from fighting children’s polio in the 1950s to establishing one of the nation’s first and largest HIV clinics.
Knowlton said the new award will be given periodically to a New Jersey medical professional who “best exemplifies a lifetime of healing, compassion and innovation in the public health arena.”
An alumnus of Georgetown Medical School, Yale Medical School and the National Institutes of Health, Smith continues to organize groups of physicians and medical students in a program called Inter-City Infectious Disease Rounds in New York. He also founded the Smith Infectious Diseases Foundation.