No Ordinary Mike: Michael Smith, Nobel Laureate

No Ordinary Mike, by Eric Damer &  Caroline Astell

No Ordinary Mike

Michael Smith, Nobel Laureate

by Eric Damer and Caroline Astell


  • Spring 2004
  • ISBN 978-1-55380-014-9 (1-55380-014-1)
  • ebook ISBN 978-1-55380-091-0
  • 6″ x 9″ Trade Paperback, 264 pages
  • Biography, Science, Genetics, Medicine

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 acknowledgment of 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 the University 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.

“I welcome the publication of this biography of Michael Smith, an extraordinary Canadian who won the Nobel Prize for his research into the mysteries of the gene, and who went on to make Canada a world leader in biotechnology and genome research.”
— Martha C. Piper, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of British Columbia


“the book is strong on university politics and rich in anecdotes and personal reminiscences”
Ambix: The Journal of the Society for Alchemy and Chemistry