Professor A David Smith FMedSci

Professor Emeritus of Pharmacology, Hon Associate Director of MRC Anatomical Neuropharmacology Unit, Founder Director of OPTIMA.
Alzheimer’s disease: diagnosis, aetiology and prevention. Control of Obesity.
College Lady Margaret Hall

Research summary

Professor A David Smith

Professor Smith has spent his entire academic career in the University of Oxford, graduating from Christ Church in Biochemistry in 1963 from where he joined the Department of Pharmacology to carry out research for a D.Phil. (1966) with Dr Hugh Blascho FRS. He then held the Royal Society Stothert Research Fellowship and in 1971 was appointed University Lecturer in Pharmacology and Fellow of Christ Church. In 1984 he succeeded Sir William Paton FRS to the Chair of Pharmacology and in 1985 the Medical Research Council established a new Unit (Anatomical Neuropharmacology Unit) associated with the Department with Professor Smith as Honorary Director and Dr. Peter Somogyi as Co-Director. In 1988 he co-founded the Oxford Project to Investigate Memory and Aging (OPTIMA) which he directed for 20 years. In 1998 he became Honorary Associate Director of the Unit when Prof. Somogyi was appointed Director. In 2000 he was appointed Deputy Head of the newly created Division of Medical Sciences in the University of Oxford, a post he held until his retirement in 2005. He remains very active as Professor Emeritus and his current research is into the prevention of Alzheimer's disease and, with Professor Helga Refsum (Visiting Professor of Human Nutrition), into causes of obesity.


Professor Smith was founding Chief Editor of Neuroscience and served as Chief Editor from 1976 - 2001. He was awarded the Gaddum Prize of the British Pharmacological Society in 1979, and a Honary Doctorate from Jozsef Attila University, Szeged, Hungary in 1993. He gave the 1993 'Decade of the Brain' Lecture for the Brain Research Association. In 1996 he was elected a member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters and in 1998 he was elected Honarary Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and received an Honorary Doctorate of Medicine from Lund University, Sweeden. In 2000 he was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences UK.


Preventing Alzheimer's disease-related gray matter atrophy by B-vitamin treatment. Douaud, G, Refsum H, De Jager C. A., Jacoby R, Nichols T, Smith S. M. and Smith A. D.. PNAS (2013)

Cognitive and clinical outcomes of homocysteine-lowering B-vitamin treatment in mild cognitive impairment: a randomized controlled trial. de Jager, C. A., A. Oulhaj, R. Jacoby, H. Refsum and A. D. Smith. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry (2012) 27: 592-600.

Plasma free choline, betaine and cognitive performance: the Hordaland Health Study. Nurk, E., H. Refsum, I. Bjelland, C. A. Drevon, G. S. Tell, P. M. Ueland, S. E. Vollset, K. Engedal, H. A. Nygaard, A.D.Smith Br J Nutr (2012): 1-9.

Transferrin and HFE genes interact in Alzheimer's disease risk: the Epistasis Project. Lehmann, D. J., M. Schuur, D. R. Warden, N. Hammond, O. Belbin, H. Kolsch, M. G. Lehmann, G. K. Wilcock, …..and A. D. Smith Neurobiol Aging (2012) 33: e1-13.

Do we need to reconsider the desirable blood level of vitamin B12? Smith, A. D. and H. Refsum. J Intern Med (2012) 271: 179-182.

Cysteine and obesity. Elshorbagy, A. K., A. D. Smith, V. Kozich and H. Refsum. Obesity (Silver Spring) (2012) 20: 473-481.

Cysteine and obesity: consistency of the evidence across epidemiologic, animal and cellular studies. Elshorbagy, A. K., V. Kozich, A. D. Smith and H. Refsum. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care (2012) 15: 49-57.

The causal roles of vitamin B12 and transcobalamin in prostate cancer: can Mendelian randomization analysis provide definitive answers? Collin, S. M., C. Metcalfe, T. M. Palmer, H. Refsum, S. J. Lewis, G. D. Smith, A. Cox, M. Davis, et al. Int J Mol Epidemiol Genet (2011) 2: 316-327.

Disease-modification in MCI with homocysteine-lowering B vitamins slows atrophy of particular brain regions: the VITACOG trial. Douaud, G., H. Refsum, C. De Jager, K. Bradley, R. Jacoby, S. M. Smith and A. D. Smith. J Nutr Health Aging (2011) 15: S12.

Cysteine supplementation reverses methionine restriction effects on rat adiposity: Significance of stearoyl-coenzyme A desaturase. Elshorbagy, A. K., M. Valdivia-Garcia, D. A. Mattocks, J. D. Plummer, A. D. Smith, C. A. Drevon, H. Refsum and C. E. Perrone. J Lipid Res (2011) 52: 104-112.

The vitamin D receptor gene is associated with Alzheimer's disease. Lehmann, D. J., H. Refsum, D. R. Warden, C. Medway, G. K. Wilcock and A. D. Smith. Neurosci Lett (2011) 504: 79-82.

Non-linear relationships of cerebrospinal fluid biomarker levels with cognitive function: an observational study. Williams, J. H., G. K. Wilcock, J. Seeburger, A. Dallob, O. Laterza, W. Potter and A. D. Smith. Alzheimers Res Ther (2011) 3: 5.

Cognitive performance among the elderly in relation to the intake of plant foods. The Hordaland Health Study. Nurk, E., H. Refsum, C. A. Drevon, G. S. Tell, H. A. Nygaard, K. Engedal and A. D. Smith. Br J Nutr (2010) 104: 1190-1201.

Homocysteine as a predictor of cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease. Oulhaj, A., H. Refsum, H. Beaumont, J. Williams, E. King, R. Jacoby and A. D. Smith. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry (2010) 25: 82-90.

Why are drug trials in Alzheimer's disease failing? Smith, A. D. Lancet (2010) 376: 1466.

Genome wide profiling of altered gene expression in the neocortex of Alzheimer's disease. Tan, M. G., W. T. Chua, M. M. Esiri, A. D. Smith, H. V. Vinters and M. K. Lai. J Neurosci Res (2010) 88: 1157-1169.

Homocysteine-lowering by B vitamins slows the rate of accelerated brain atrophy in mild cognitive impairment. A randomized controlled trial. Smith, A. D., S. M. Smith, C. A. de Jager, P. Whitbread, C. Johnston, G. Agacinski, A. Oulhaj, R. Jacoby and H. Refsum. PLoS ONE (2010) 5: e12244.