Legacy of BC’s First Nobel Laureate Lives On Celebrating the 25th anniversary of Michael Smith’s Nobel Prize

Michael Smith accepting Nobel Prize

Vancouver, BC — This October, organizations from across British Columbia’s scientific research community are celebrating the powerful legacy of Dr. Michael Smith, the province’s first Nobel Laureate, as we mark the 25th anniversary of his Nobel Prize. Smith’s impact and foundational work in genomics inspired many and helped propel our province to international prominence as a world leader in genomics research.

Smith’s Nobel Prize was awarded for his work on site-directed mutagenesis, a revolutionary technique that allows scientists to make a genetic mutation precisely at any spot in a DNA molecule, helping us understand more about how genes work, and what happens when they go wrong.

This technique has led to new tests and treatments for diseases such as cancer, with made-in-BC treatments and practices putting the province near the top of world rankings for cancer outcomes. It has also contributed to better understanding of conditions such as Alzheimer’s, cystic fibrosis and immunodeficiency disorders like HIV/AIDS.

A man of humble origins, Smith donated his entire Nobel Prize award. Half of the $500,000 prize went to researchers working in schizophrenia research, at the time a notoriously under-funded area. The other half he gave to Science World British Columbia and to the Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology, enabling the group to continue supporting and promoting women in their education and career choices.

The Nobel Prize, and Smith’s dedication to using his position to advance BC research as a whole, was a game changer for the province, vaulting the expertise of local scientists onto the world stage and putting BC on the map as a place for world-class research.

Among the organizations he created and inspired are Genome British Columbia (Genome BC), the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR), the Michael Smith Laboratories at the University of British Columbia (UBC), and the Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre at BC Cancer.

Twenty five years after the Nobel Prize, these organizations are carrying on his powerful legacy of research excellence and interdisciplinary work so that BC remains an international leader in life sciences research, making significant discoveries and bringing the benefits to British Columbians.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary, the Michael Smith Laboratories at UBC are hosting a scientific symposium on October 1, 2018, focusing on future trends in biotechnology research and education. Further information and registration information is available at www.msl.ubc.ca/25.


About Genome British Columbia:

Genome British Columbia manages a cumulative portfolio of over $935M in more than 343 scientific research projects and technology platforms. We invest in genomics innovation to address critical challenges in key economic sectors such as health, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture, agrifood, energy, mining and environment. In addition to scientific programming, Genome BC works to integrate genomics in to society by supporting responsible research and innovation, and is committed to fostering an understanding and appreciation of the life sciences among educators, students and the public. genomebc.ca.

About the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research:

The Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR), funded by the Province of British Columbia, is BC's health research funding agency. MSFHR helps develop, retain and recruit the talented people whose research improves the health of British Columbians, addresses health system priorities, creates jobs and adds to the knowledge economy.

Since its inception in 2001, MSFHR has been a key participant in BC's health research and life sciences ecosystem. The Foundation works as a trusted partner with government, the health research community and the health system to support better health outcomes through research and its translation into new treatments, cures, practices and solutions. Learn more at healthresearchbc.ca.


Jennifer Boon  
Communications Manager, Sectors
Genome BC
Mobile: 778 327 8374
Email: jboon@genomebc.ca
@genomebc    #genomebc

Amy Noise
Manager, Marketing & Communications
Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research
Tel: 604 714 5375 / 778 858 0697
Email: anoise@msfhr.org
@msfhr    #BCresearch

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