Gary Smith of Columbus Childrens Hospital Honored with Dimon R. McFerson Endowed Chair in Injury Research

June 21, 2007

Gary Smith, MD, DrPH (43230), director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy (CIRP) at Columbus Childrens Hospital, is honored today with the Dimon R. McFerson Endowed Chair in Injury Research. The Dimon R. McFerson Endowed Chair in Injury Research is the second-of-five endowed chairs made possible by the extraordinary gift to Childrens Hospital from the Nationwide Foundation. For clinicians and researchers working in academic-medical institutions like Childrens, endowed chairs represent the most prestigious and significant recognition of their work.

With the creation of these endowed chairs, we are pleased to honor former leaders of Nationwide who were responsible for creating and building our companys tradition of partnership with Childrens Hospital, said Jerry Jurgensen, CEO of Nationwide. Dimon McFerson is well-known for his leadership of Nationwide, his support of the Greater Columbus community and his passion for child auto safety, which makes him the natural choice for this honor.

Childrens Hospital received a ten-year, $50 million commitment from the Nationwide Foundation in June 2006 to support expansion of programs and construction of a new main hospital that will further position the hospital as one of the nations top pediatric health care and research facilities. The Nationwide Foundation gift will support several key areas within Childrens growth plan. One of the areas chosen for focused investment includes programmatic support for research in the prevention of child and adolescent injury.

For decades, Nationwide and Columbus Childrens Hospital have grown together to become two of the most trusted and respected institutions in our city, Steve Allen, MD, chief executive officer of Columbus Childrens Hospital, said. Today, we honor and recognize two men from these organizations for their pioneering work in their respective fields.

The Dimon R. McFerson Endowed Chair in Injury Research is named for Dimon R. McFerson (43017), retired chairman and CEO of Nationwide. McFerson joined Nationwide in 1979 after a number of years in the insurance industry. Elected president of Nationwide property/casualty companies in 1988, he was elected Nationwides Chairman and CEO in 1992 and retired in December 2000.

In 2006, Stephen Welty, MD, chief of Neonatology at Columbus Childrens Hospital, was honored with the first-of-five endowed chairs, the Dean W. Jeffers Endowed Chair in Neonatology.

Dimon R. McFerson
A Los Angeles native, McFerson is a 1959 graduate of UCLA and earned a masters degree from the University of Southern California in 1972. He is a Certified Public Accountant and holds the Chartered Life Underwriter professional designation. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Capital University in 1996 and Ohio Dominican College in 1997.

An industry leader and longtime safety advocate, McFerson served on the boards of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Insurance Information Institute, and is past chairman of both boards. He served as chairman of the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation, headquartered in the United Kingdom. He also served as the chairman of the United Way of America Board of Directors and as first vice chair on the American Red Cross Board of Governors.

McFerson has made an indelible mark on the Columbus community through many years of service. He is past board chair of the Center of Science and Industry and the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce. McFerson chaired the Franklin County United Way campaign in 1990, was board chairman of Ohio Dominican College for seven years, and also served as chairman of the Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges Board of Trustees.  He was vice chair of The Columbus Foundation.  McFerson currently serves as a Trustee to The Ohio State University and Chair of the Ross Heart Hospital at The Ohio State University Medical Center complex.  He is also Board President of the Olentangy Local School District.

He has received many honors and awards for his devoted service to various causes from organizations including the National Jewish Fund, American Heart Association, the Columbus Chapter of the American Red Cross; the Columbus Chapter of the American Cancer Society; Junior Achievement of Central Ohio; and the Central Ohio United Way.

McFerson and his wife, Darlene, have seven children and 23 grandchildren. They live in Delaware, Ohio.

Gary A. Smith, MD, DrPH
Dr. Gary A. Smith is director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Columbus Childrens Hospital. Smith is also associate professor of pediatrics, Ohio State University College of Medicine, with joint faculty appointments in the Division of Epidemiology, College of Public Health, and in the Department of Emergency Medicine, College of Medicine. He is board certified in the specialties of pediatrics and general preventive medicine and public health, and in the subspecialty of pediatric emergency medicine. In addition to his clinical training, Smith holds Master of Public Health and Doctor of Public Health degrees from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. 

Smith joined Columbus Childrens Hospital in 1990 as director of Emergency Medicine, and later also served as associate director of Childrens Trauma Program. During that time, he saw first hand the devastating impact that injuries can have on children and their families. Recognizing that injury is a preventable disease, Smith has become an internationally renowned expert in the field of pediatric injury prevention. He is currently chair of the national Committee on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and is immediate past-chair of the Committee on Injury and Poison Prevention of the Ohio AAP.  He also has served as a member of the Initial Review Group (the injury study section) of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He has been an author of more than 70 scientific articles and book chapters, was on the editorial board of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine for six years and currently serves on the editorial board of the journal Pediatrics.

As founder and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy, a position he has held since 1999, Smith is dedicated to reducing death and disability that result from childhood injury the leading cause of death and acquired disability among children and adolescents in the United States through integration of research, education, advocacy and innovative clinical care. Recent research studies include the investigation of smoke alarms and how to increase their effectiveness for waking children, as well as studies of injuries related to shopping carts, automobiles, bicycles, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), lawn mowers, school buses, cheer leading and other topics.   

Smith and members of the Center for Injury Research and Policy published 27 peer-reviewed studies in 2006 (i.e. one study published every two weeks on average) in journals such as Pediatrics, Injury Prevention, and Journal of Science and Medicine in Sports. Their work also garnered roughly one billion media impressions in the same year, many in major television outlets such as the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN American Morning, the CBS Evening News, CNN Headline News, Canada AM, and in scores of major US newspapers. For more information about the Center for Injury Research and Policy, visit

The Nationwide Foundation is an independent corporation funded by contributions from Nationwide companies. Founded in 1959, the Nationwide Foundation has committed more than $169 million since 2000 to help nonprofit organizations in communities where Nationwide associates and their families live and work. For more information, visit

Nationwide is a federally registered service mark of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.

About Nationwide Children's Hospital

Named to the Top 10 Honor Roll on U.S. News & World Report’s 2019-20 list of “Best Children’s Hospitals,” Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of America’s largest not-for-profit freestanding pediatric health care systems providing wellness, preventive, diagnostic, treatment and rehabilitative care for infants, children and adolescents, as well as adult patients with congenital disease. Nationwide Children’s has a staff of more than 13,000 providing state-of-the-art pediatric care during more than 1.5 million patient visits annually. As home to the Department of Pediatrics of The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Nationwide Children’s physicians train the next generation of pediatricians and pediatric specialists. The Abigail Wexner Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of the Top 10 National Institutes of Health-funded freestanding pediatric research facilities. More information is available at