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Michael Smith

Michael SmithBorn: 26-Apr-1932
Birthplace: Blackpool, England
Died: 4-Oct-2000
Location of death: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Cause of death: Cancer - Leukemia

Gender: Male
Religion: Atheist
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Chemist

Nationality: Canada
Executive summary: Oligonucleotide-based mutagenesis

Canadian biochemist Michael Smith was born and raised in England, but came to Canada to conduct post-doctoral work under Nobel laureate H. Gobind Khorana and rarely left. He became a Canadian citizen in 1964, and developed a new technique in molecular biology, called oligonucleotide-based site-directed mutagenesis, in 1977. His work allowed scientists to remove and insert single nucleotides, alter the DNA sequence of any gene, insert and track designed mutations, and analyze the function of each amino acid.

Remarkably, the report of his group's finding was held for months by a prominent scientific journal before being rejected as "a technological development of no general interest". Resubmitted to a different journal, his paper was published toward the end of 1978, more than a year after the work had been completed, and has had major applications in medical research of Alzheimer disease, cystic fibrosis, hemophilia, and sickle-cell disease, among other benefits. Smith won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1993, and donated the cash honorarium, some half a million Canadian dollars, to scientific research. He passed away in 2000.

Father: Rowland Smith (gardener)
Mother: Mary Agnes Smith (bookkeeper)
Brother: Robin
Wife: Helen (div. 1983, two sons, one daughter)
Son: Tom
Son: Ian
Daughter: Wendy

    High School: Arnold School, Blackpool, Lancashire, England (1950)
    University: BS Chemistry, University of Manchester (1953)
    University: PhD Organic Chemistry, University of Manchester (1956)
    Scholar: University of British Columbia (1956-60)
    Scholar: Enzyme Research, University of Wisconsin at Madison (1960-61)
    Administrator: Fisheries Research Board Laboratory, University of British Columbia (1961-66)
    Teacher: Biochemistry, University of British Columbia (1966-70)
    Professor: Biochemistry, University of British Columbia (1970-96)
    Administrator: Biotechnology Laboratory, University of British Columbia (1987-2000)
    Professor: Peter Wall Dist. Prof. of Biotechnology, University of British Columbia (1996-2000)

    Nobel Prize for Chemistry 1993 (with Kary Mullis)
    Order of Canada 1994
    Canadian Alliance for Research in Schizophrenia
    Medical Research Council of Canada Funding, 1966-2000
    Schizophrenia Society of Canada
    Society for Canadian Women in Science
    English Ancestry
    Naturalized Canadian Citizen 1964

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