George P. Smith is an American biochemist known for his development of phage display, a technique that uses bacteriophages to study protein-protein, protein-DNA and protein-peptide interactions. The phage display technique was used to develop treatments for conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis and contributed to research on disease-causing peptides produced by the malaria causing parasite Plasmodium falciparum.
Smith is a Curator’s Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences at University of Missouri (MU). He joined MU in 1975. His interest in designing a more efficient and safe DNA cloning vector led him to invent “phage display”, a technique where sequences of DNA are cloned into the gene that encodes phage surface proteins so that the cloned sequence is “displayed” on the surface of the phage. The technique allows phages displaying peptides that bind a target molecule to be selected using affinity purification procedures. Phage display is used to understand protein function and has been used to develop therapeutic antibodies. George P. Smith and Sir Gregory P. Winter won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2018 “for the phage display of peptides and antibodies”. That year Frances H. Arnold also share with them the Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for the directed evolution of enzymes”.