Edward A. Smuckler, Pathology: San Francisco
Ed was a big man. He was physically imposing and his appetite for life matched his size. He didn't know how to do anything half way. He loved and hated in style. Ed was furious when he discovered that someone in Seattle had characterized him as a bull in a china shop. But Ed was a bull in a china shop; a bull with a very delicate touch. He loved to rattle the china but he was ever so careful not to break the good pieces. He loved medicine and science. He hated cant, hypocrisy, and pretense as stumbling blocks to truth--and he didn't hide it.
Edward Aaron Smuckler was born in New York City. He attended Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, receiving a bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1952. He maintained an abiding interest in Dartmouth as an educational institution and was proud of the fact that two of his five children, a son and a daughter, attended Dartmouth. He was rooted to the notion that a liberal arts undergraduate education should provide the openness, breadth, and change to appropriately shape the dimensions of a postgraduate life. He always felt that Dartmouth accomplished this for him. In 1952 he entered Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. After graduating with an M.D. degree in 1956, he served as an intern at the U.S. Naval Hospital, now the National Medical Center, in Bethesda, Maryland, followed by two years of military service as a senior medical officer in the NORPAC Sub area. In 1959, while in the Navy, shuttling back and forth between Bremerton, Washington and Yokohama, Japan, Ed went to see Earl Benditt, chairman of pathology at the University of Washington. Ed had developed a special interest in pathology as an undergraduate and was eager to further his career in research. While still in the Navy, he began to refurbish his math and physical chemistry skills, preparatory to embarking on a Ph.D. program. He then went on to receive a Ph.D. in experimental pathology from the University of Washington in Seattle, joining the faculty there as an instructor in pathology in 1961.
For 17 years Ed was a dynamic force there. There was never a challenge from which Ed shrunk. He ran the Medical Technology Program, established
― 293 ―the Liver Biopsy Service, directed the sophomore pathology course, served on the school's Admissions Committee, helped design the school-wide teaching labs, was instrumental in developing the Washington, Alaska, Montana, Idaho, (WAMI) teaching program, and raised funds for construction of the Gottstein Laboratory, later becoming its director. By the time he left the University of Washington to take on the chairmanship of the Department of Pathology at the University of California, San Francisco, he undeniably had left his mark, felt not only in that University but nationwide.
Ed had emerged as one of the first and most illustrious of the modern experimental pathologists who saw the power that basic science techniques offer for the study of disease. He was a frequent consultant on the effects of toxic substances and became known internationally for his contributions to research on the nature of carcinogens and the effects of toxic substances on the liver. Ed became active in numerous national and international pathology organizations, the American Cancer Society, and national and state panels reviewing environmental carcinogens and their effects on humans and animals. However, when he was a candidate for a senior faculty position in Denver, he was told by the chairman, Barry Pierce, that the position would not be offered to him. As shock and disbelief came over his face, Pierce told him why--he believed that Ed needed to run his own department and get cracking on his own.
Ed Smuckler then came to San Francisco to put his dreams to work. In 1976 he was appointed as professor and chairman of pathology at the University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco. He guided the restructing and modernization of UCSF's Department of Pathology for 10 years, bringing international recognition in several areas of diagnosis and training. During this time, his international reputation as an expert on toxic and carcinogenic substances grew and he served the University in multiple ways. His scientific eminence, administrative talent, and personal aura provided a rare combination of qualifications that accounted for his exceptional success as a departmental chairman and academic leader. In addition to devoting himself so fully to the department and to the school, he was a member of the National Research Council's Pesticide Information Review and Evaluation Committee; the Scientific Advisory Panel, Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act through the Environmental Protection Agency; the California Medical Association's Pathology Advisory Agency; the Pesticide Advisory Council, State of California Food and Agricultural Department; the Committee on Toxicology of the National Academy of Science; and numerous other statewide and national committees. Through his concern and multiple positions as consultant and expert witness, he shaped, as well as monitored, the safety of the
― 294 ―environment for all of us. Through his position on the Council in the International Academy of Pathologists, and as the Chairman of the Graduate Education Committee of the Association of Pathology Chairmen, he also focused some of his limitless energy on the future of the discipline of pathology.
Ed loved to be in the thick of things. He involved himself in the development of many facets of University life and national issues, leaving his mark on a host of research areas, and University and Public Services. Ed was recognized as a positive force in academic pathology. Ebullient, critical, and outspoken, he provided a stimulus to all. Giving plentifully of his analytical talents, Ed was on the editorial board or an associate editor for 20 journals, including the American Journal of Pathology, Cancer Research, Ultrastructural Pathology, and Laboratory Investigation. He proved to be a thoughtful and wise reviewer on all, and the boards counted on Ed to brighten meetings with an endless array of stories, many of which related to skiing. His enjoyment of skiing matched his soaring spirit at the laboratory bench. As well as being the medical advisor of the National Ski Patrol System, Far West Division, he was the regional director of the Bay Area Region.
The demands of being chairman at UCSF, running a major department in a great medical school, neither mellowed nor wore down Ed's enthusiasm. He managed to remain a bench researcher. He liked the challenge of extracting from the behavior of the animal--its cells and its molecules--those bits of information from which theories and ultimately, truths are fashioned. He was successful. His studies of carbon tetrachloride toxicity, RNA polymerase, protein synthesis, and the transport of nuclear macromolecules were all distinguished by originality and attention to technique and detail. Few experimentalists have been capable of matching his mastery over the wide range of pathobiologic issues that he explored and was called upon to judge. He was endowed with great energy and enthusiasm, infectious to all those around him.
With several close friends he shared a deep common interest in pathology, a common salty humor, and a love for science. At his natural best in that group, Ed had a special way of looking at things, a way of seeing through to the heart of a problem and a great knack for keeping things straight. When a friend was down, Ed's great heart provided warmth and support. Ed would climb a mountain with that friend and get the problem all straightened out. We were lucky to have known Ed Smuckler, to have benefited from his friendship and his insights, and to be able to say, “We were his friends.”
A resident of Sausalito, he is survived by his wife, Bobbie Head, M.D., Ph.D., an oncology fellow at UCSF, and five children from a previous
― 295 ―marriage: Cynthia and Elizabeth, both of Santa Monica; Douglas, of Chicago; Alisoun Gensler, of Palo Alto, and Daniel of San Francisco.
E.P. Benditt D.S. Friend D. Lagunoff T. Miller G.B. Pierce R. Schmid S. Sell