Great healers and humanitarians have intellect, experience, and insight – qualities all great physicians possess. However, they have an additional quality often overlooked – strength – a characteristic that manifests itself in energy, forcefulness, presence, and powerful grip on (and refusal to let go of) the physical, financial, and social challenges that face individuals attempting to change the world.
Leon G. Smith, MD is such a man. A man with the physical presence of an athlete (he was once asked as a young man to play for the NY Yankees), Dr. Smith has been an undeniable force dedicated to healing, teaching, and building bridges among physicians and health care workers battling infectious disease around the world.
Dr. Leon G. Smith is among the most well-known and respected infectious disease specialists in the United States. He began his life as the eldest son in a close-knit family of modest means in Yonkers, New York. He experienced the illness and death of his father from Graves Disease when a young boy — it was the inability of his father’s physicians to save his father’s life that inspired him to become a physician.
Through the efforts of his entire family, Dr. Smith began the long journey to the top of his field in the study and treatment of infectious disease. Academic accomplishment and honors at NYU Georgetown Medical School, in which he graduated magna cum laude; acting internship at Harvard Medical School; a research fellowship at the National Institutes of Health, where he did breakthrough research in the study of viruses, fungal disease, and bacterial pathogens; and a fellowship and residency at Yale University Medical School followed.
Like the paths followed by many great individuals in myth and reality, Dr. Smith’s brilliant journey then took an unexpected turn. Dr. Smith was asked by an esteemed mentor to begin work at Saint Michael’s Hospital in Newark, New Jersey – a hospital that ministered to people of little means and in dire need. There, during 50 years of service, Dr. Smith applied his intellect and strength of will despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles to create a legacy and an enduring story of genius.
At St. Michaels, Dr. Smith started the first free inner city medical clinic. He started the first HIV/Aids clinic in New Jersey – only the second one in the nation – during a time of great uncertainty and fear not only for physicians working in the field but also for patients and the public. He started a Hepatitis Clinic, a Leprosy Clinic, and the first clinic in the entire country for “Fever of Unknown Origin” – a clinic that, through the work of the Smith Infectious Diseases Foundation, remains a beacon for physicians from all over the world seeking answers to life threatening illness whose cause eludes even the most skilled physicians.
Today, Dr. Smith is Past Chairman of Medicine and Past Chief of Infectious Diseases at Saint Michael’s Medical Center in Newark where he has served for 48 years. Dr. Smith also founded and was Chairman of the Residency Program in Internal Medicine at Seton Hall University School of Graduate Medical Education (which he established with then Seton Hall President, Dr. John Petillo), and is a Professor of Preventive Medicine/Community Health and Professor of Medicine at University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. In addition, he co-chairs the Bio-terrorism Task Force for New Jersey and is the founder of an information service for New Jersey physicians that provides free phone information on antibiotics, vaccines, and other infectious disease related topics.
Dr. Smith is a past President of the National Foundation of Infectious Diseases and has received numerous awards and distinctions, including the Mastership Award presented by the American College of Physicians and the Mentor Award presented by the Infectious Disease Society of America. He has published over 250 papers and articles on infectious diseases and written many chapters in highly regarded books on the subject. He trained most of the practicing New Jersey infectious disease physicians and was voted by his peers as one of the "Best Doctors in America" for his diagnostic skills.
Dr. Smith’s professional life has been dedicated to serving the health care needs of others while specializing in preventing the spread of deadly infectious diseases, diagnosing and treating those who contract these illnesses. He has undertaken numerous clinical studies on new antibiotics, anti-viral and anti-fungal drugs and has developed one of the largest infectious disease programs on the East Coast. He serves on the advisory boards of many large pharmaceutical companies and lectures extensively on the application of new anti-microbial agents all over the world.
When you speak to patients, students, or colleagues of Dr. Smith, you hear about a rare combination of diagnostic genius, compassion, and strength. His dedication to his patients is tireless and unequivocal. This personal strength of will is the legacy – and the ongoing aspirations – of The Smith Infectious Diseases Foundation.
Georgetown Medical School
Magna Cum Laude
Yale Medical School
National Institutes of Health
Infectious Disease Fellow
St. Michael's Medical Center
Past Chairman of Medicine Past Chief of Infectious Diseases
Smith Infectious Diseases Foundation, Inc.
Seton Hall Univ. School of Graduate Medical Education
Past Chairman of the Residency Program
Univ. of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey
Prof. of Medicine
Bio-terrorism Task Force NJ
National Foundation of Infectious Diseases
Dr. Leon G. Smith Biography Narrated by Don Criqui
Awards & Accomplishments
American College of Physicians
The Mastership Award
Infectious Disease Society of America
The Mentor Award
"Best Doctors in America"
Founder of one of the largest infectious programs in the world
Established medical school scholarships for inner city students
Established first HIV/AIDS Clinic in New Jersey
Developed Blackberry Education Program for Infectious Diseases for use by physicians in Africa
Partners of America - Haiti
Featured on “60 minutes
Featured on The Discovery Channel
Established Queen of Angels Church
Free Clinic (with his wife Peggy)
Dr. Leon G. Smith Interview on Caucus NJ
The Smith Infectious Diseases Foundation, Inc.
171 Old Chester Road • Essex Fells, NJ 07021
Copyright 2017: The Smith Infectious Diseases Foundation, Inc. | Funding For Scientific Research
All rights reserved.171 Old Chester Road, Essex Fells, NJ 07021
Register to receive our newsletters and other notable accomplishments