James Miller Memorial Prize

2016W Lisa McEwen 2010W Courtney Hanna
2015W Ana Cohen 2009W Farah Zahir
2014W Joanne Trinh 2008W Johanna Schuetz
2013W George Chung 2007W Meaghan Jones
2012W Katharina Rothe 2006W Arefeh Rouhi
2011W Alireza Baradaran-Heravi 2005W Tracy Tucker


The James Miller Memorial Prize was established in 2005 in memory of Jim Miller, the founding Head of the Department of Medical Genetics. The Medical Genetics Graduate Program is the culmination of his work. This award is presented annually at the Medical Genetics Research Day in November.

The James Miller Memorial Prize is to be awarded to the Medical Genetics PhD student who best exemplifies Jim’s values:

  1. Leadership in fostering exchange of scientific ideas in the Department.
  2. Integration of basic sciences with clinical medical genetics in their project.
  3. Collaborative, open-minded to other areas of research, actively seeking opportunities to reach out to the community and effectively building bridges by engaging with others outside of the student’s research focus.
  4. A high degree of independence.
  5. Originality and creative thinking.

The candidate is to be of high academic standing but there will be no attempt to choose the “top” student.


  • PhD and MD/PhD students who have completed at least three years in the Medical Genetics Graduate Program.
  • Students must be far enough along in their PhD studies that they can be considered to be “graduating” (approximately in their final year) but still in the Program (and therefore one-time awardees only).


  • The Graduate Program Assistant creates a list of current Medical Genetics PhD and MD/PhD students who have been in their programs for three or more years. Faculty supervisors will be invited to nominate their students who meet all of the eligibility criteria, and who are approximately in their final year. Additionally, the Review Committee will actively solicit nominations from the supervisors of any eligible students (based on the criteria) that committee members feel are likely to be good candidates.
  • Supervisors are welcome to nominate one or more qualified students from their lab per year.
  • Application Documents:
    • Supervisor’s letter of support
    • Student’s current CV
  • The Graduate Program Assistant will provide the Review Committee with the application documents by early November.
  • Once the Review Committee has identified the top candidate for the Jim Miller Prize, the Chair will notify the student and the student’s supervisor(s), the Medical Genetics Graduate Advisor and Graduate Program Assistant, prior to Research Day.
  • The Prize recipient will be asked in advance to prepare a short talk (about 10 minutes) for Research Day.  The talk is to focus on his/her research, emphasizing the aspects of their work that relate to human genetic disease.


The Review Committee is composed of Medical Genetics faculty members: one member from the Medical Genetics Graduate Program Advisory Committee and two members who have been academically connected with Jim or whose research and teaching involves both clinical and basic research. The appointment is generally for three years.

A standing committee was formed when the prize was initiated and met for the first four years (2005-2008) to get the process started and to review the nominations. The members were Dr. Diana Juriloff (Chair), Dr. Muriel Harris, and Dr. Wendy Robinson.


Jim Miller (James Reginald Miller, 1928-1999)

Jim Miller, remembered by his friends and colleagues for his warmth and humour, came to UBC in 1958 from his PhD studies at McGill University to work on muscular dystrophy in mice with W.C. Gibson in Neurological Research. Once here, Jim’s scope expanded hugely to begin the introduction of Medical Genetics to British Columbia- including practical clinical genetics, academic human genetics, and research in mouse developmental genetics.

Jim based his emerging Medical Genetics Department on his belief in the importance of a close interchange between basic science and clinical genetics. He established a Genetic Counseling service, with biochemical and cytogenetic labs. He established a genetics component in the UBC Medical School curriculum. He developed and taught an undergraduate Human Genetics course, and was a key founder of the UBC Genetics Graduate Program. He was the geneticist for the BC Registry for Handicapped Children and Adults, an early model of monitoring frequencies of birth defects…

In his research program, Jim demanded question-driven, rather than technique-driven, studies. He expected his students, whether in human or mouse genetics, to come up with their own research questions. He valued independence of thought, originality, and creativity. He was a master teacher in a seminar setting and expected students to enter fully into a lively exchange of scientific ideas.

Dr. Muriel Harris