Thomas and Catherine Yoshikawa Award

Alexander K. Smith, MD, MPH

The AGS and AGS Health in Aging Foundation today announced that Alexander K. Smith, MD, MPH, an associate professor of medicine at UCSF and one of geriatrics’ most influential rising researchers and advocates, will be honored with the 2020/2021 Thomas and Catherine Yoshikawa Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement in Clinical Investigation. Following the cancellation of the AGS 2020 Annual Scientific Meeting due to COVID-19, the AGS shared that Dr. Smith would deliver his marquee presentation, “Confessions of an unfocused researcher,” at the AGS 2021 Annual Scientific Meeting (#AGS21) in Chicago, Ill. (May 13-15; pre-conference day: May 12).

In his presentation at #AGS21, Dr. Smith will describe the benefits and challenges of different approaches to a research focus, particularly one that maintains a broad array of interests. The value of a diversity of avenues for scientific inquiry remains key, not only for maintaining intellectual interest and scholarship in multiple areas, but also for mentoring the current and future generations of clinicians, educators, and scientists.

“Researchers have long been taught to have a narrow focus,” explains Dr. Smith. “But throughout my academic career, I’ve been drawn to holistic disciplines with central principles that run counter to this reductionist perspective: Primary care, geriatrics, and palliative care.  My academic success, such as it’s been, reflects this pull towards complexity, diversity of interests, and nurturing fresh ideas. I’m excited to share that approach with my colleagues.”

That vagabond spirit developed early for Dr. Smith, who was born in Hilo, H.I., before his family moved to Michigan. After completing undergraduate studies in cellular and molecular biology at the University of Michigan, Dr. Smith pursued masters’ degrees in public health from UC Berkeley and Harvard, in addition to a medical degree from UCSF. He joined the UCSF faculty in 2008, three years after completing his residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Then and now, Dr. Smith has remained a prolific researcher while also balancing priorities as a clinician, educator, and mentor. The author or co-author of more than 100 peer-reviewed publications, Dr. Smith also has served as principal investigator or co-principal investigator on four grants to UCSF from the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Aging. Since 2009, Dr. Smith also has co-produced GeriPal, a popular blog and podcast focused on the issues affecting geriatrics and palliative care clinicians.  Like much of Dr. Smith’s work, including his current tenure as an editor focused on social media and mentoring for emerging research reviewers for the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, work on GeriPal and other endeavors not only helps Dr. Smith advance geriatrics expertise but also explore a diverse array of geriatrics questions in new and important platforms, a staple skill for recipients of the Yoshikawa Award.

Announced at the 2016 AGS Annual Scientific Meeting and supported for 16 years thanks to generous contributions to the AGS Health in Aging Foundation, the Yoshikawa Award recognizes the research accomplishments of mid-career clinician-investigators directly involved in the care of older adults. It is one of several honors conferred by the AGS at its Annual Scientific Meeting.

Past Recipients of the Thomas and Catherine Yoshikawa Outstanding Scientific Achievement for Clinical Investigation Award

2019   Amy Kind, MD, PhD
2018   Heather Whitson, MD, MHS
2017   Sei Lee, MD, MAS
2016   Mara Schonberg, MD, MPH
2015   Rebecca Sudore, MD
2014   XinQi Dong, MD, MPH
2013   Cynthia J. Brown, MD, MSPH
2012   Malaz A. Boustani, MD, MPH
2011   Catherine A. Sarkisian, MD, MSPH   
2010   Cynthia M. Boyd, MD, MPH
2009   Louise C. Walter, MD
2008   R. Sean Morrison, MD
2007   Eric A. Coleman, MD, MPH
2006   David J. Cassaret, MD, MS
2005   Joe Verghese, MBBS, MS
2004   Terri R. Fried, MD
2003   Edward Marcantonio, MD, Boston, MA
2002   James T. Pacala, MD, Minneapolis, MN
2001   Thomas M. Gill, MD, New Haven, CT
2001   Greg A. Sachs, MD, Chicago, IL
2000   Elizabeth Capezuti, PhD, RN
1999   Mark A. Supiano, MD
1998   Sharon K. Inouye, MD 
1992   Mary Tinetti, MD
1991   Larry Rubenstein, MD, MPH