Resident Life

Smith Research Day

Dr. Amit Gupta, Smith Day Distinguished SpeakerThis year marked the 24th annual Smith Research Day held at the Bigelow Amphitheater at Massachusetts General Hospital. The distinguished speaker was Dr. Amit Gupta from Louisville Arm and Hand Program. This year was special in that it marked the resurgence of the Boston Hand Club. Hand surgeons from Massachusetts General, Cape Cod, Tufts, Brigham and Womens’, Beth Israel and New England Baptist Hospital enjoyed a thorough case-based discussion on the preceding day. This was followed by a dinner near the waterfront and an enlightening talk by Dr. Gupta on the origin of the Fibonacci sequence.

Smith Research Day, Image2Smith Research Day, Image3

The following day saw several talks by residents and fellows, which lead to hours of lively debate on a multitude of topics in hand surgery. Dr. James Herndon also delivered an insightful talk on quality and safety in our present environment. The day ended with Dr. Gupta’s keynote speech, “The Grasping Hand-Structural and Functional Hand Anatomy.” We look forward to another enlightening program next year.

Richard J. Smith, M.D.
Richard J. Smith, M.D.

Richard J. Smith, M.D. was an extraordinary individual and one who will not be easily replaced. Henry Mankin, M.D., in writing Richard Smith’s obituary in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery in 1987, stated so eloquently, “his capacities, talents, and commitment made him, in the eyes of man, our finest flower and the thirty years he gave to hand surgery, one of its finest periods.”


Dr. Smith was born in the Bronx, New York, attending the prestigious Bronx High School of Science. He received his college education at Brown University, graduating in 1951. His medical education was obtained at New York Medical College, where he was elected to AOA and graduated in 1955. Following a surgical internship at Bellevue Hospital, Richard began his Orthopaedic surgical training at the Hospital for Joint Diseases in New York City, completing the program in 1960. During his training at the Hospital for Joint Diseases, he became a disciple of Emmanuel Kaplan, M.D., a then leading authority in anatomy of the hand and became determined to pursue a career in the relatively new field of hand surgery.


Following a two-year obligation to the Public Health Service in Boston, Richard Smith spent a year of Hand Fellowship, divided between Mr. Guy Pulvertaft in Darby, England and Dr. Joseph Boyes in Los Angeles, California. In 1963, Dr. Smith returned to the Hospital for Joint Diseases to join Dr. Kaplan and later in 1968 to succeed him as the Director of the Hand Service. During this time, he began to quickly establish himself as an outstanding clinician, surgeon, and most of all, educator.


In 1972, Richard moved to Boston along with Henry Mankin, M.D. to become the Chief of the Orthopaedic Hand Service at the Massachusetts General Hospital and, in 1980, was named Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Harvard Medical School. During his tenure at the MGH, which ended tragically with his untimely death in 1987, he expanded his activities in hand surgery to an international level and in 1982 served as President of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand. Despite all his commitments, he somehow found the time to be a devoted husband to his wife Jane and a devoted father to his daughters Lisa and Tracey, and late son James.


For all who had the unique good fortune to have known Dr. Richard Smith, studied under him, or worked with him in any capacity, what will endure most of all was his remarkable skill and devotion to education, the pursuit of excellence, and the advancement of the specialty of hand surgery.