E. Gene Smith (TBRC Founder and Senior Research Scholar) was born in Ogden, Utah in 1936. He studied at a variety of institutions of higher education in the U.S.: Adelphi College, Hobart College, University of Utah, and the University of Washington in Seattle.
In 1959, the Rockefeller Foundation, seeing the opportunity to promote Tibetan studies, funded the establishment of nine centers of excellence worldwide, one of which was the University of Washington.
Under the auspices of the Rockefeller grant to the Far Eastern and Russian Institute, nine Tibetans were brought to Seattle for teaching and research, including the Ven. Deshung Rinpoche Kunga Tenpai Nyima, the tutor to the Sakya Phuntsho Phodrang. Smith had the good fortune to study Tibetan culture as well as Buddhism with Deshung Rinpoche and the rest of the Tibetan teachers at Seattle from 1960 to 1964. He lived with the Sakya family for five years. He spent the summer of 1962 travelling to the other Rockefeller centers in Europe to meet with the Tibetan savants there.
In 1964 he completed his Ph.D. qualifying exams and travelled to Leiden for advanced studies in Sanskrit and Pali. In 1965 he went to India under a Foreign Area Fellowship Program (Ford Foundation) grant to study with living exponents of all of the Tibetan Buddhist and Bonpo traditions.
He began his studies with Geshe Lobsang Lungtok (Ganden Changtse), Drukpa Thoosay Rinpoche and Khenpo Noryang, and H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. He decided to remain in India to continue serious studies of Tibetan Buddhism and culture. He travelled extensively in the borderlands of India and Nepal. In 1968 he joined the Library of Congress New Delhi Field Office. He then began a project which was to last over the next two and a half decades: the reprinting of the Tibetan books which had been brought by the exile community or were with members of the Tibetan-speaking communities in Sikkim, Bhutan, India, and Nepal.
He became field director of the Library of Congress Field Office in India in 1980 and served there until 1985 when he was transferred to Indonesia. He stayed in Jakarta running the Southeast Asian programs until 1994 when he was assigned to the LC Middle Eastern Office in Cairo.
In February 1997 he took early retirement from the U.S. Library of Congress to become a consultant to the Trace Foundation for the establishment of the Himalayan and Inner Asian Resources (HIAR).
In December 1999 he and a group of friends established the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center in Cambridge.
He passed away on December 16, 2010.