Homer W. Smith

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Homer William Smith
Homer William Smith 1921.png
Born January 2, 1895
Denver, Colorado
Died March 25, 1962
New York City
Occupation Physiologist, science writer

Homer William Smith (January 2, 1895 – March 25, 1962), best known as Homer W. Smith was an American physiologist and science writer.


Smith was born in Denver, Colorado. He received his D.Sc in 1921 from Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health. From 1928 until his retirement in 1961 he was the Professor of Physiology and Director of the Physiological Laboratories at New York University School of Medicine.[1] His research work focused on the kidney and he discovered inulin at the same time as A.N. Richards. Smith authored several books including From Fish to Philosopher, Man and His Gods and The Kidney: Structure and Function in Health and Disease.[2][3]

Smith was a lead scientist in the field of renal physiology.[4] His elegant experiments on the kidney in the 1930s proved beyond any doubt that it operated according to physical principles, both as a filter and a secretory organ, eliminating the last vestige of vitalism in physiology.[3]

He also served on the board of trustees of Science Service, now known as Society for Science & the Public, from 1952-1955.[3]

As a memorial to Smith in 1963 the New York Heart Association created the Homer W. Smith Award in Renal Physiology.[5]

His son was Homer Wilson Smith.[3]

Views on religion[edit]

Smith attacked superstition and was critical of religious ideas.[6] He identified as an agnostic but has also been described as an atheist and humanist.[7][8]

Smith was an advocate of the Christ myth theory.[9][10]



  • "What engineer, wishing to regulate the composition of the internal environment of the body on which the function of every bone, gland, muscle, and nerve depends, would devise a scheme that operated by throwing the whole thing out 16 times a day and rely on grabbing from it, as it fell to earth, only those precious elements which he wanted to keep?"[17]


  1. ^ Bing, R. J. (1995). Homer W. Smith and His Contribution to Cardiovascular Medicine. Clinical Cardiology 18 (8): 486–487.
  2. ^ "Homer W. Smith: Man and His Gods". positiveatheism.org. Archived from the original on 2016-02-03. 
  3. ^ a b c d Bynum, W.F. (2000). Smith, Homer William. American National Biography Online. 
  4. ^ Giebisch, G. (2004). Homer W. Smith's Contribution to Renal Physiology. J Nephrol 17: 159–165.
  5. ^ Hrushka, K. A. (1991). American Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology 260 (2): F151–F152.
  6. ^ Blau, Joseph L. (1953). Reviewed Works: The Scriptures of Mankind by Charles S. Braden; Man and His Gods by Homer W. Smith; The Religions of Mankind by Edmund Davison Soper; What Americans Believe and How They Worship by J. Paul Williams. Jewish Social Studies 15 (1): 77–80.
  7. ^ Farber, Saul J. (1996). Homer W. Smith: The Humanist. Kidney International 49: 1528-1529.
  8. ^ Evans, David. (2015). Marine Physiology Down East: The Story of the Mt. Desert Island Biological Laboratory. Springer. p. 111. ISBN 978-1-4939-2959-7
  9. ^ Graubard, Mark. (1953). Reviewed Work: Man and His Gods by Homer W. Smith. Isis 44 (1/2): 88–89.
  10. ^ Zadunaisky, José A. (1989). Dedication of the Homer W. Smith Laboratory at the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, Salsbury Cove, Maine: Friday, July 28, 1989. Mount Desert Island Biological Loboratory. p. 31
  11. ^ Bankoff, Milton L. (1951). The Kidney: Structure and Function in Health and Disease. Academic Medicine 26 (4): 334.
  12. ^ Corcoran, A. C. (1951). The Kidney: Structure and Function in Health and Disease. Science 23 (114): 558.
  13. ^ Howard, Evelyn. (1953). The Kidney: Structure and Function in Health and Disease. The Quarterly Review of Biology 28 (1): 88.
  14. ^ Nelson, Boris Erich. (1952). Reviewed Work: Man and His Gods by Homer W. Smith. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 284: 211-212.
  15. ^ "Man and His Gods". Kirkus Reviews.
  16. ^ "From Fish to Philosopher". Kirkus Reviews.
  17. ^ Brunton, Laurence (2011). Goodman & Gilman’s: The Pharmacological Bases of Therapeutics. China: The McGrqw-Hill Companies. p. 671. ISBN 9780071624428. 

Further reading[edit]