James Miller Memorial Prize

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 Prize is presented annually at the Medical Genetics Research Day. The James Miller Prize is $1,000.

2023W Tasha Wainstein
2022W Nikita Telkar
2021W Amy Inkster
2020W Samantha Dziurdzik
2019W Giulia Del Gobbo
2018W Chaini Konwar
2017W Lisa McEwen
2016W Ana Cohen
2015W Joanne Trinh
2014W George Chung
2013W Katharina Rothe
2012W Alireza Baradaran-Heravi
2011W Courtney Hanna
2010W Farah Zahir
2009W Johanna Schuetz
2008W Meaghan Jones
2007W Arefeh Rouhi
2006W Tracy Tucker

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.


  • Currently registered 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 currently in the Program.
  • Awardees of the James Miller Memorial Prize competition are excluded from future competitions.
  • Students can win both the James Miller Prize and the Patricia Baird Prize, but not in the same year. The winner of the James Miller Prize will be decided prior to the selection of the Patricia Baird finalists.
  • Applicants may also compete in the Research Day poster competition, but the James Miller Prize winner will be excluded from selection for a poster prize.


  • The Graduate Program Coordinator creates a list of current Medical Genetics PhD students who have been in their programs for three or more years. Faculty supervisors are 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.  A final call will be sent to all supervisors of eligible students several weeks before Research Day.
  • Supervisors are welcome to nominate one or more qualified students from their lab per year.
  • The supervisor and nominated student send the application documents by September 25, 2023 to Azin Zeinali at medical.genetics@ubc.ca. Application documents are:
    • Supervisor’s letter of support
    • Student’s current CV
  • The Patricia Baird and James Miller Prizes Review Committee Chair will notify the successful applicant and their supervisor(s) approximately three weeks before Research Day. The Prize recipient will prepare a short talk (about 10 minutes) for Research Day.  The talk is to focus on their research, emphasizing the aspects of their work that relate to human genetic disease.
  • The James Miller Prize awardee is announced at Research Day, followed by the student’s talk.


Jim Miller (James Reginald Miller, 1928-1999), 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