Skip to main content

Cassandra L. Smith

Cassandra L. Smith (‘67 BA, ‘71 MS)

Cassandra L. Smith graduated from West Virginia University in 1967 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and in 1971 with a master’s degree in medical microbiology. In 1974, she earned a doctorate degree in genetics from Texas A&M University.

Smith is an expert researcher in the field of genomics – the study of the sequence and organization of DNA. She is a professor of biomedical engineering, biology and pharmacology at Boston University where she serves as deputy director for the Center for Iced Biotechnology.

Smith began her career in 1974 with the Department of Genetics at the Public Health Research Institute of the City of New York where she held a three-year National Institutes of Health (NIH) postdoctoral fellowship beginning in 1975. In 1978, as a research associate on a NIH Young Investigator Grant, she began an affiliation with Columbia University that spanned 11 years. During that time she served as associate research scientist in the Department of Genetics and Development then as assistant professor in the Departments of Microbiology and Psychiatry.

In 1988, she began four years at the University of California Berkeley as associate professor-in-residence in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology. In addition, from 1990 to 1992, she served as senior scientist for the Division of Chemical Biodynamics at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory.

In 1992, Smith assumed her current position at Boston University. She holds the distinctions of being the first woman full professor in the University’s College of Engineering and of holding tenured positions in both the College of Engineering and the College of Arts and Sciences.

Smith is a highly regarded authority in the field of genome mapping methods. She was the first to show that chromosomes could be cut into discrete large pieces and fractionated by size, paving the way for the human genome project. The methods she developed have played essential roles in the discovery of numerous important disease genes, including those involved in cystic fibrosis, breast cancer and muscular dystrophy. In 1987, Smith led the team that produced the first complete structural map of any organism, that of the bacterium Escherichia coli, or E-coli.

Smith holds one U.S. patent and has nine additional applications for patents pending. She has written more than 160 articles, publications, abstracts and scientific papers and has served as an editor for several journals. She is currently co-editor-in-chief of Genetic Analysis: Biomedical Engineering and associate editor of Electrophoresis.

Smith has served as a consultant for numerous national and international companies, including Pharmacia-LKB, Sweden; FMC Corporation; Promega; Boehringer Mannheim Gmbh., Germany; and Trichor, Inc. She has also served as a consultant and expert witness for the Office of the Public Defender.

In addition, Smith serves on the Board of Advisors for the Institute of Complex Systems, the Review Panel for the Department of the Army’s Breast Cancer Research Project and as Foreign Member of Scientific Council of the Institute of Molecular Genetics in Moscow, Russia.