Tribute to Beloved Husband Endows Distinguished Chair in Medicine

Supporting UT Southwestern for nearly three decades, Jane Smith had a singular focus for her latest gift: commemorating the integrity, generosity, and success of her late husband, Henry J. “Bud” Smith.

“My husband grew up in New Mexico in a ranch house with no running water or electricity,” Mrs. Smith said. “Bud was educated in a one-room schoolhouse. ... Despite coming from an uneducated family, he served our country in World War II and got a college degree with funding from the G.I. Bill. And to realize how far he went in business, his life’s story is so admirable, because it’s one of the original all-American stories about starting in poverty and achieving great success.”

Jane and Bud Smith
Jane and Bud Smth Provided by Jane Smith

Married for 67 years, the couple met in New Mexico, where Mrs. Smith had relocated, moving from Winnetka, Illinois, to Albuquerque to work. They eventually settled in Dallas, where Mr. Smith began a successful insurance business.

Together, the Smiths were engaged in different areas of UT Southwestern Medical Center, contributing as members of Friends of the Center for Human Nutrition, the President’s Research Council, and Friends of Zale Lipshy.

In 2018, they made a gift to support the research of Dr. Jonathan Cheng, a Professor in the Department of Plastic Surgery at UT Southwestern. In his research on restoring touch for upper limb amputees, he implanted electrodes from a prosthesis into nerves in a patient's arm. Creating a connection between the brain and the artificial hand enabled patients to move the device's fingers, which fascinated Mrs. Smith.

“I have great admiration and respect for the leadership, physicians, and everyone at UT Southwestern. I wanted to make a gift to show our appreciation for everyone at UT Southwestern, knowing the hard work, dedication, and years of study that keep this hospital going. To be able to give back is a blessing” Mrs. Smith said.

To honor Mr. Smith's memory and their nearly 70-year marriage, Mrs. Smith established the Jane and Bud Smith Distinguished Chair in Medicine, providing flexibility for the fund to support different areas of the institution with the greatest need.

Vanessa Sperandio
Dr. Vanessa Sperandio Mei-Chun Jau/UT Southwestern Medical Center

Vanessa Sperandio, Ph.D., Professor of microbiology and biochemistry at UT Southwestern, is the inaugural Distinguished Chair holder. Her current research focuses on how gut-based bacteria can sense neurotransmitters to help the body fight against certain pathogens.

“I feel honored and humbled to receive this Distinguished Chair,” Dr. Sperandio said. “It will absolutely help my research as it allows me so much flexibility to start new projects.”

By studying how certain bacterial molecules can influence addiction-like behavior, Dr. Sperandio hopes to find ways to modify certain brain circuitry to make a patient less susceptible to drugs like cocaine.

“The funding for this Chair is important because it enables me to do real exploratory science and move my field in exciting new directions,” Dr. Sperandio said. “Ultimately, this gift opens up all kinds of avenues to pursue out-of-the-box concepts. I’m extremely grateful to Mrs. Smith for the chance to do that.”

  • Dr. Sperandio holds the Jane and Bud Smith Distinguished Chair in Medicine.