Alumna Pamela Smith

Meet English and pre-med alumna, Pamela Smith

Advancements in medicine have radically changed patient care. The technology available to today’s practicing physicians makes identifying and treating diseases more efficient and effective than ever.

For Pamela Smith, B.A. '74, the rapid changes in science provide the opportunity to offer patients specialized treatment plans based on their genetics.

Smith, currently a physician at the Center for Personalized Medicine in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, specializes in personalized medicine, the field formally known as metabolic, functional and anti-aging medicine. Her academic journey started at Wayne State University.

“I always knew I wanted to go to med school, so I double-majored in English and pre-med,” Smith said. “I wanted to be a literate physician.”

After graduating from Wayne State, Smith attended Nashville’s Meharry Medical College and completed her residency at the Detroit Medical Center. She stayed in Detroit and worked as an emergency room physician at the DMC for the first 20 years of her career.

But changes in science also brought changes for Smith.

“When I first started practicing medicine, it was protocol. Everyone got the same thing,” Smith said. “We can now measure amino acids, fatty acids, organic acids and hormones. We can measure the genome and — now that the science is here — we can actually personalize and individualize medicine.”

With these emerging scientific advancements, Smith left the field of emergency medicine and pursued a master’s in toxicology. She eventually received another master’s in metabolic and nutritional medicine, which allowed her to practice personalized medicine.

Today, Smith is able to provide treatment options specific to her patients’ needs. Impending medical developments continue to bring added excitement to the field.

“Medicine is evolving so quickly that in two to three years, you will be able to tell from looking at a person’s genetic history if a particular medicine is going to work before you even give it to them,” she stated. “It’s a very exciting time in medicine and a very exciting time for patients.”

Smith said the best part of her work is simply helping her patients.

“I really just love to help people be healthy,” she laughed. “Science is here to help people be healthier. It’s not just about longevity — it’s really living to be 100, but a healthy 100.”

Smith’s patient care includes more than practice — she’s also a prolific writer. She has authored eight books on health care and continues to provide her patients with pertinent information relating to their health. 

To current Wayne State students, Smith leaves one piece of advice: “Be well-rounded,” she said. “It’s really important that people have a wide breadth of knowledge no matter what they decide to do in life. Having a liberal arts degree made me a very well-rounded person, and that has always afforded me the ability to do whatever I want, personally and professionally.”

By Danielle Underwood, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Development Writer