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How Michael Smith Put B.C.’s Life Sciences Community on the Map with a Nobel Prize 25 Years Ago

By September 25, 2018No Comments

The late Nobel Prize winner Michael Smith was a good, but not spectacular, student who narrowly missed being sent to work in the trades.

Really, nothing about his Nobel adventure went to script.

As a student of modest means from a state-run elementary school, Smith needed to perform well enough on his exams to escape a life devoted to welding or stone masonry.

He qualified for a reputable academic boarding school in his home town of Blackpool, although his mother had to forcefully persuade him to attend with “snobs,” he recalled. Boys can be cruel, and they were.

But during those years, he fell in love with the outdoors as a Boy Scout, a love that eventually led him to settle in British Columbia, Smith wrote in his Nobel biography. He worked in Vancouver during the late 1950s, but left for the University of Wisconsin in 1960.