Theodore R. Smith, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Department of Medicine

CII-110 502–852–3993


Ph.D., Experimental Psychology, Miami University (1992)

Research Areas and Special Projects

  • Director – Center for Healthy Air, Water and Soil

Monitoring and Sensing: Ongoing studies in Dr. Smith’s center are focused on research that addresses the promotion of human health in urban environments. Many of these studies are developing novel approaches to measuring environmental factors that are determinants of health. These approaches range broadly from data crowdsourced from the community (SmellMyCity) to the use of sensors (PollenSense, Propeller Health), and recently, to signals in municipal wastewater (Co-Immunity). Perhaps more important than how these data are gathered, is how data are made available to the public and policy makers. One important project in service of this mission is the Louisville Data Commons which is a community-governed, public data repository intended to aggregate community-sourced data relevant to the Louisville, KY community.

Town-Gown Collaboration: A complete understanding of the role environmental or place-based factors play in disease prevention, cannot be done in conventional laboratories. A mid-sized city, such as Louisville, KY brings the challenges of the urbanizing planet but presents them on a scale that can result in shared learning with a common goal of reducing disease. Projects such as AIR Louisville which delivered new insights into the geography of air pollution and asthma have led to larger projects such as the Green Heart Louisville that aim to reduce localized air pollution and reduce cardiovascular disease risk. Our research includes intentional efforts to share back with the community the process and results of our research and listen for opportunities to address emerging challenges. One example is the City on Science Community Journal Club which meets monthly to review research focused on the Louisville community but which may have never been shared back with the community. The experience gathered from such interactions has improved our research translation abilities for communication with community members, federal partners, and key programs such as the UofL Superfund Research Center. Developing a robust, community-driven, environmental health and basic research program with the mission of finding and eliminating place-based causes of disease is the ultimate goal.

Space Medicine: One of the greatest illustrations of the importance of the environment on health outcomes is best illustrated in extreme and hazardous environments such a space flight and habitation. We actively collaboration with NASA’s Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) from Dr. Smith’s involvement on the Scientific Advisory Board to programmatic activities such as the Spaces in Space workshop held at MIT. As part of the Envirome Institute, Dr. Smith collaborates with basic clinical science projects across the institute that are increasingly relevant to NASA’s deep space medicine challenges with special emphasis on the reduction of chronic inflammation through better insights into metabolism, nutrition, and immune function in extreme environments.

COVID-19 Research: During the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic of 2020-2021, Dr. Smith and colleagues have led an ambitious effort to determine how threats such as SARS-CoV-2 can be monitored at the population level by sampling at wastewater from communities of various sizes across the state of Kentucky. This work is part of a larger COVID prevalence assessment led by Dr. Bhatnagar that includes regular stratified random sampling of community residents. Dr. Smith’s lab is focused on epidemiologic frameworks which can be applied to future pathogens, toxins and eventually population biomarkers of health status risk. 

Featured Publications

Find a complete list of publications on ResearchGate or Google Scholar

  • Smith T, Cassell G, Bhatnagar A. Wastewater Surveillance Can Have a Second Act in COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution. JAMA Health Forum. Published online January 11, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamahealthforum.2020.1616
  • Yeager, R. A., Holm, R. H., Saurabh, K., Fuqua, J. L., Talley, D., Bhatnagar, A., & Smith, T. R. (2020). Wastewater sample site selection to estimate geographically-resolved community prevalence of COVID-19: A research protocol. medRxiv.
  • Casey, J. A., Su, J. G., Henneman, L. R., Zigler, C., Neophytou, A. M., Catalano, R., ... & Combs, V. (2020). Improved asthma outcomes observed in the vicinity of coal power plant retirement, retrofit and conversion to natural gas. Nature Energy, 5(5), 398-408. PMCID: PMC7263319
  • Yeager, R. A., Smith, T. R., & Bhatnagar, A. (2020). Green environments and cardiovascular health. Trends in cardiovascular medicine, 30(4), 241-246.
  • Baba, S., Smith, T., Hellmann, J., Bhatnagar, A., Carter, K., Vanhoover, A., & Caruso, J. (2020). Space Flight Diet-Induced Deficiency and Response to Gravity-Free Resistive Exercise. Nutrients, 12(8), 2400.
  • Smith, T., Mattingly, T. J., & Slabaugh, L. (2019, December). Improving health determinants outside of the clinic does not mean outside of clinical science. In Healthcare (Vol. 7, No. 4). Elsevier.
  • Swaminathan, S., Qirko, K., Wysham, N., Corcoran, E., Smith, T., & Gerber, A. N. (2019). A Therapeutic Machine-Learned Triage Methodology for Moderate to Severe Asthmatics. Available at SSRN 3327368.
  • Oman, C. M., I. Howard, T. Smith, A. Beall, A. Natapoff, J. Zacher and H. Jenkin. (2003). The Role of Visual Cues in Microgravity Spatial Orientation. The Neurolab Spacelab Mission:Neuroscience Research In J. Buckey and J. Homick, Eds. Houston, TX, NASA Johnson Space Center. NASA SP-2003-535: 69-82.