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Please note that some translations using Google Translate may not be accurately represented and downloaded documents cannot be translated. Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund assume no liability for inaccuracies that may result from using this third-party tool, which is for website translation.

Richard and Susan Smith Family receives Institute’s highest honor, the Sidney Farber Medical Research Award

Above, at the award ceremony on Sept. 15 were (from left): Debra Smith Knez; Institute Trustee Amy Smith Berylson; Dana-Farber President and CEO and the Richard and Susan Smith Professor of Medicine Laurie H. Glimcher, MD; Robert A. Smith; and Dana-Farber Chairman of the Board Josh Bekenstein.

Late Fall 2022
By Nancy Kwan and Jen Segal
Photography by Bryce Vickmark

On a beautiful evening in mid-September, members of the Dana-Farber community gathered to celebrate the presentation of the 2022 Sidney Farber Medical Research Award to the Richard and Susan Smith Family. Accepting the award on the family’s behalf were Dick and Sue’s children, Amy Smith Berylson, Debra Smith Knez, and Robert A. Smith, accompanied by grandchildren and extended family members representing many generations and branches of the Smith Family.

Dana-Farber’s highest honor

The Sidney Farber Medical Research Award was established in 1968 in appreciation of the contributions Sidney Farber, MD, made to medicine and to the development and support of cancer care and research around the world. It represents the Institute’s highest honor and is presented to individuals or groups who have made outstanding contributions to oncology, either through research or public service.

A multigenerational legacy of giving and leading

The awarding of the Sidney Farber Medical Research Award coincides with a momentous occasion for Dana-Farber, our 75th anniversary. The Smith Family has been associated with Dana-Farber since its founding in 1948, when Dick’s father, Philip, served as a founding Trustee. Dick followed in his footsteps on the Board, eventually becoming the Institute’s longest-serving Trustee. Over the decades, Dick expanded his involvement, serving as chairman of the board and even the Institute’s president, and being a steady hand through periods of substantial growth and evolution for Dana-Farber. Sue served as a Trustee of the Institute and a driving force behind the establishment of the Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber, which was later renamed the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers in her honor and in recognition of her tireless leadership, fundraising, and advocacy.

Richard and Susan Smith
The late Richard and Susan Smith, pictured here in 2005, whose extraordinary service and visionary generosity played an integral role in the growth and lifesaving mission of Dana-Farber.

Dick and Sue were active leaders, participants, philanthropists, and partners in every aspect of Dana-Farber’s work and mission, and the next generations of their family are carrying on this tradition. Amy Smith Berylson has served on the Dana-Farber Board of Trustees since 2011. Debra Smith Knez supported her mother’s work and continues to be a proud champion for the Institute’s mission, and her daughter Jessica Knez joined the Dana-Farber Board in 2021. Robert Smith is a board member and former chair of the Pan-Mass Challenge, and a board member and incoming chair of Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Care, Inc.

Dick and Sue led by example through their extraordinary philanthropy and are recognized as the Institute’s most generous individual donors. Their gift of $50 million in 2006 was one of the largest single gifts in Dana-Farber’s history and launched the construction of the Yawkey Center for Cancer Care. The family’s commitment is also seen through the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation, established in 1970 to promote greater health, educational attainment, and economic mobility in Greater Boston. Their children and several of their grandchildren are active trustees of the foundation, and its grants to Dana-Farber have often supported early career investigators and, most recently, helped establish the Susan F. Smith Center Living Biobank to advance discovery science in ovarian cancer.

“The Smith Family name has been associated with Dana-Farber since our founding—few families in our history have been as integral to our lifesaving mission as the Smith Family,” said Laurie H. Glimcher, MD, Dana-Farber president and CEO, and the Richard and Susan Smith Professor of Medicine. “They have been responsible for the growth of our Institute in both physical footprint and scientific ambitions.”

“There are lots of amazing people who have been important donors to many great institutions. But I don’t think you can go anywhere and find a family that has had as much of an effect on an institution as the Smith Family has had on Dana-Farber,” said Josh Bekenstein, chairman of the Dana-Farber Board of Trustees.

David G. Nathan, MD, president emeritus of Dana-Farber, who knew Dick and Sue since their childhoods together and who holds great admiration for the family said, “The Smith Family has made Boston a better place. The Smith Family has made Dana-Farber a better place. Susan and Dick put so much of themselves into this work. To them, we owe so very, very much.”

It was fitting that the celebration took place at the Longwood Center—a state-of-the-art research facility where investigators conduct the most advanced cancer research. One of Dick’s last major gifts to Dana-Farber before his passing enabled the expansion of the Longwood Center and was one of the lead gifts to The Dana-Farber Campaign.

Reflecting on her parents’ legacy and looking to the future, Amy Smith Berylson said, “My father’s part in growing the Institute from a small clinic to the best-of-the-best in cancer research and care was viewed by him as his greatest philanthropic accomplishment. There is no doubt that the bond between Dana-Farber and our family endures as a source of pride and inspiration.”

“My parents were a team of the ages,” said Debra Smith Knez, in remembrance of her mom and dad. “I can’t express enough how much I admired their partnership, which translated to the research and patient experience at Dana-Farber. We could not be more honored to receive the Sidney Farber Medical Research Award on behalf of our parents, who we were so blessed to have as parents.”

Capturing the essence of the Smith Family’s partnership with Dana-Farber, Robert A. Smith said, “Our parents put their heart and soul into Dana-Farber. They helped define a vision for Dana-Farber, which defined a mission for Dana-Farber, which endures.”

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