Michael James, D.Sc., June 2, 2010
Michael James
B.Sc.(Hons.), M.Sc.(Man.); D.Phil.(Oxford); F.R.S.C.

Dr. Michael N.G. James has been the preeminent leader in protein crystallography in Canada for over four decades. Protein crystallography generates highly detailed information about the positions of the atoms in proteins providing insight into the mechanisms of all aspects of cell function. Dr. James graduated from the University of Manitoba with an honours degree in chemistry in 1962. He learned X-ray crystallography from Professor Bob Ferguson in the Department of Geology and Mineralogy at our University and graduated with an MSc in 1963. He then moved to Oxford University and, working with Professor Dorothy Hodgkin, earned a D. Phil. in 1966. Dr. James returned to Canada and established the first laboratory in our country dedicated to the study of proteins by crystallography at the University of Alberta. In 1974, he determined the first high-resolution structure of a protein in Canada. Since then, he has received worldwide recognition for his work that has explained, among other things, how muscle contraction is triggered and the detailed mechanisms by which enzymes work. His work has also led to a greater understanding of how and why bacteria become resistant to antibiotics and has contributed to the development of drugs to fight bacterial infections and HIV. His work has also led to the development of drugs to control high blood pressure. Dr. James has deposited over 150 protein structures in the publically accessible RCSB Protein Data Bank and published over 275 papers in the most prestigious scientific journals, so it is not possible to describe all of his work here. His research is remarkable for the breadth of the cellular processes that it covers and the deep insights he has contributed to several branches of biochemistry by pursuing structural explanations for important cellular phenomena. Dr. James has been recognized extensively for his work. An abbreviated list of his awards includes election to fellowship in the Royal Societies in London and in Canada, the Alberta Centennial Medal, the Ayerst Award in Biochemistry, and the University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry Award for Excellence in Mentoring. Dr. James has been an active and dedicated researcher and mentor to an entire generation of scientists - he has trained 20 PhD students and over 30 post-doctoral fellows. Many of Dr. James' students are now leading researchers in protein crystallography across Canada and around the world. He has played a leading role in his field, serving on a long list of national and international advisory bodies.



Michael James