Smith, Michael, 1932-2000

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1932-04-26
Death 2000-10-04

Biographical notes:

Former University of British Columbia faculty member and Nobel prize winner Michael Smith (19322000) was born in Blackpool, England where he attended Arnold School from 1943 to 1950. He received his B.Sc. in 1953 Ph.D. in 1956 from the University of Manchester. Smith completed a post-doctoral fellowship with the B.C. Research Council between 1956 and 1960 under the direction of Gobind Khorana. In 1960, the Khorana group, including Smith moved to the Institute for Enzyme Research at the University of Wisconsin. Wanting to return to the west coast, Smith accepted a position with the Fisheries Research Board of Canada Laboratory in Vancouver in 1961. From 1966 to 1997, he was Career Investigator (formerly Medical Research Associate) in the Department of Biochemistry. He also served as Director of the Biotechnology Laboratory at UBC from 1987 to 1996 and Scientific Leader of the National Network of Centres in Excellence in Protein Engineering. In 1994, Smith was named as Peter Wall Distinguished Professor Biotechnology and in 1998 he became director of the B.C. Cancer Agency Genome Sequence Centre. In 1993, Smith was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his pioneering work in the development of the technology of "site directed mutagenesis", a technique which allows gene sequences to be altered in a designated manner. In commenting on the importance of this development, a departmental tribute to Smith observed that: "Site directed mutagenesis allows the reprogramming of genes to investigate the influence of genetic makeup on the characteristics and development of cells. Proteins of medical or industrial importance, such as antibodies and enzymes, can be redesigned to improve their stability and effectiveness. Dr. Smiths contribution to many fields of biology and medicine is therefore enormous." In addition to his Nobel Prize, Smith received numerous other awards and distinctions for his scientific achievements. Some of these included: Boehringer Mannheim Prize of the Canadian Biochemical Society (1981); Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (1981); Gold Medal, Science Council of British Columbia (1984); Fellow of the Royal Society, London (1986); Gairdner Foundation International Award (1986); Killam Research Prize, UBC (1986); Award of Excellence, Genetics Society of Canada (1988); G. Malcolm Brown Award, Canadian Federation of Biological Societies (1989); Flavelle Medal, Royal Society of Canada (1992); Principal Award, The Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation (1994); Companion of the Order of Canada (1994); Induction into Canadian Medical Hall of Fame (1995); Order of British Columbia (1995); BC Biotechnology Award for Innovation and Achievement (1999); and Royal Bank Award (1999). He also received twenty five honorary degrees. Michael Smith died on 4 October 2000.

From the description of Michael Smith fonds. 1957-2000. (University of British Columbia Library). WorldCat record id: 606456069

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