Bradley Smith
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Obituary of Bradley Edgerton Smith

Dr. Bradley Edgerton Smith, professor emeritus, past chairman of the Vanderbilt University Department of Anesthesiology, passed away on March 20th in Nashville after a long battle with cancer. Dr. Smith was born on January 4, 1933, in Cedar Vale, Kansas. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Tulsa in 1953 and his medical degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1957. Dr. Smith completed his anesthesiology residency at the United States Naval Hospital in New York City in 1960. After residency, he was a member of the U.S. Navy’s Project Mercury, the country’s first human spaceflight program. From there, Dr. Smith completed a research fellowship and obstetric anesthesia fellowship at Columbia University, Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. This was the first obstetric anesthesia fellowship completed in the United States. Dr. Smith’s passion for obstetric anesthesia was present throughout his entire career and was a focal point of his research, publications, and teaching. After serving in the Navy, Dr. Smith was on faculty at Yale University and then the University of Miami. In 1969, Dr. Smith was appointed as Professor of Anesthesiology and Chair of the Vanderbilt University Department of Anesthesiology. To date, he has had the longest duration of any chair in that role, serving for 24 years (1969 – 1993). While chair, Dr. Smith directed a six-fold increase in both faculty and resident numbers, and also in clinical workload. During this time, he established the region’s first Anesthesiology Biomedical Engineering Division, Tennessee’s first full-time Critical Care Team, and Nashville’s first Pain Management Clinic. During his tenure as chair, the department graduated 271 anesthesiology residents, and four doctorates of philosophy and 14 master’s degrees were awarded to anesthesiology trainees. The department also published more than 500 peer-reviewed papers and the faculty grew to nine fully tenured professors (including four former Vanderbilt University Anesthesiology residents), which were outstanding accomplishments in this period. At the state and national level, Dr. Smith was president of the Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology (SOAP), the Society for Computers in Anesthesia (SCIA), and the Tennessee Society of Anesthesiologists (TSA). He was one of the longest serving directors of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) and was general chairman of the 1996 ASA Annual Conference. During his career, he served in various roles for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the National Formulary, the National Research Council, the American Board of Anesthesiologists, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, the American Heart Association, and other bodies. Dr. Smith retired clinically in 2008, but his love for medicine and the specialty of anesthesiology continued. Dr. Smith received a Paul Wood Fellowship and served as a Trustee of the Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology. Even after ending his clinical practice, Dr. Smith served as a contributing editor for Tennessee Medicine and for the Obstetric Anesthesia Digest. Until the past few years he also served on the Council of Mentors of the Anesthesia History Association. Dr. Smith’s leadership set the foundation and trajectory for the department to be the national and international leader that it is today in anesthesiology and pain, critical care, and perioperative medicine. However, Dr. Smith leaves much more than a legacy of academic achievement and national recognition. During his more than four decades of practice and leadership in the specialty, Dr. Smith defined what it means to be a true professional. Always a consummate clinician, Dr. Smith’s greatest pride was in delivering the best personal care to every patient, serving as a role model for generations of anesthesiologists. In light of this, in 2009 a lectureship was established in his name by then Department Chairman Dr. Michael Higgins. Dr. Smith made a lasting impact at Vanderbilt University, on generations of residents and faculty, and on the specialty of anesthesiology. Dr. Smith was married to Gretchen Basore Smith for 65 years. He had two children Ione Lake and Bradley Gordon Smith. He is survived by his daughter Ione Smith; friend, Joseph Hollingsworth.