Roberts A. Smith

Roberts A. Smith

Roberts (Bob) A. Smith passed away peacefully following a brief illness on Jan. 25, 2018 in Santa Monica, CA.

Born in Vancouver, Bob and his family moved to Courtenay in 1937 where he attended the local schools. He received his undergraduate and master’s degrees in microbiology from UBC in 1952 and 1953 and his doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana in 1957. Bob then joined the University of California, Los Angeles faculty in 1958 where he continued to teach and maintain a vigorous research program until his retirement in 1987.

In 1960 Bob joined ICN Pharmaceuticals and was instrumental in the development of one of the world’s first the anti-viral drugs, ribavirin, a medication now on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines. He continued to serve as chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of ICN and in advisory roles until well into the 2000s.

After retirement, Bob and Adela returned to Vancouver Island to build a home in their home town and channeled their energies into building a world-class rhododendron garden. In 2008, Bob was inducted into the Comox Valley Walk of Achievement in British Columbia for his work in drug discovery. In 2009, the Roberts A. Smith Graduate Award for the Study of Biochemistry was established with a generous endowment from both Bob and Adela and, in his honor, by his first graduate student Atsuko Fujimoto and her husband Akira Fujimoto.

Adela requests that instead of flowers, those who wish can send donations to enhance this fund. All donations will be matched by UCLA and can be made at: Bob is survived by his wife of 64 years, Adela, four children, 9 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.

A celebration of life gathering is planned for the afternoon of Thursday, April 5th.

Please contact Rich Smith at for information.

Comox Valley Record

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