Michael Smith burst into public view in 1993 as the co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of site-directed mutagenesis, the process by which genes can be changed under laboratory conditions for medical and research purposes. Smith became a local hero not only because of the honour and prestige represented by the award but also because he donated his time, energy, and prize money to charitable causes.Smith's down-to-earth modesty, wit, and ready acknowledgmentof support from scientific colleagues and the people of British Columbia and Canada won him admirers inside the academy and out. But Smith's award came only after a long and devoted career. No Ordinary Mike examines how the son of a poor English market gardener took advantage of school reforms to learn the skills necessary for a career in science.The biography notes his fortuitous arrival in Vancouver and the circumstances that led him to make the city his life-long home. As a professor at theUniversity of British Columbia, Smith dedicated his considerable talent and energy to research in biochemistry and molecular biology, and later launched the university's internationally regarded Biotechnology Laboratory.After his 1993 Nobel Prize, Smith became a powerful advocate of science who influenced national policy and helped to establish Canada's pre-eminent Genome Sequencing Centre. Eric Damer and Caroline Astell present not only the career and science of a great Canadian scientist, but also the politics and personalities of university life.
Eric Damer is a lifelong British Columbian born in Victoria, raised in Kamloops, and currently residing in Burnaby. After studying philosophy at the University of Victoria, he became interested in the educational forces that had shaped his own life. He completed masters and doctoral degrees in educational studies at the University of British Columbia with a particular interest in the history of adult and higher education in the province. Discovery by Design and No Ordinary Mike complement his earlier work on the history of UBC and contributes to a better understanding of how the university has helped to shape – and has been shaped by – life in the pacific province.
Caroline Astell, now Professor Emerita of Biochemistry, knew Michael Smith for 35 years, first working with him for her PhD and then as a research colleague. In 2002, she joined the BC Cancer Agency's Genome Science Centre and was on the team that decoded the SARS genome.
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