Distinguished alumna made her mark on health economics and outcomes research


October 30, 2018

Marilyn Dix Smith
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Marilyn Dix Smith, RPh, PhD, a Class of 1972 graduate and the founding executive director of the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR), passed away on October 21 at the age of 74. She leaves behind a long legacy of visionary leadership within pharmacy and healthcare alike.  

"The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy has lost a wonderful role model for future leaders with the passing of Dr. Dix Smith,” said Dean Henry Mann. Her commitment to improving healthcare and measuring the impact of care delivery was second to none. She leaves a legacy that will continue in the decades ahead.  

Dix Smith cofounded ISPOR in 1995 to promote the field of health economics and outcomes research (HEOR), and improve healthcare decision-making globally. Her leadership fostered ISPOR’s tremendous growth in size and impact that solidified its position as the leading global society in HEOR. During her 20 years as founding executive director, ISPOR celebrated its first scientific conference in HEOR, establishment of its regional and global networks and development of its flagship publication, books and online resources, among other milestones. Its role as a source for scientific conferences, peer-reviewed and MEDLINE-indexed publications, good practices guidance, education, collaboration and tools and resources in the HEOR field is unparalleled. 

Dix Smith received both her bachelor’s degree in pharmacy (1967) and postdoctoral degree in pharmaceutical sciences (1972) from The Ohio State University. Before founding ISPOR, she was among the first women to work in the pharmaceutical industry at Lederle Laboratories, where she held a number of executive roles including director of managed care pharmacy and director of quality control. To add to her achievements, Dix Smith published many scientific articles and gave numerous presentations on HEOR-related topics, including quality assessment techniques, healthcare legislation and disease treatment optimization. She was also a prominent figure within professional development as cofounder of the American Association for Pharmaceutical Scientists and a member of the American Society of Association Executives, among other organizations. 

Considering her many accomplishments, Dix Smith knew the value of hard work and dedication. However, her standout leadership abilities did not prevent her from striving to recognize the contributions of ISPOR members and leaders working alongside her. Prior to her retirement in 2014, Dix Smith requested that the Leadership Award ISPOR created in her name be given to recognize volunteer leaders who have helped the organization continue to evolve in meaningful ways. 

Dix Smith’s contributions in the founding of ISPOR helped forge pathways for new research into achieving the best health outcomes at affordable costs. We are saddened by this loss and our thoughts and deepest sympathies go to Dix Smith’s family and friends.