Jan. 07, 2020
Dr. Freda Miller received the first Legacy Award of this school year on Jan. 7, 2020.
If that name sounds familiar, it’s because the Board of Trustees named the new K-4 elementary school being built in the community of Evergreen after her. The school naming committee recommended this name to the Board of Trustees after gathering and evaluating stakeholder input on several possible names.
Dr. Miller is a cell and molecular developmental neurobiologist at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children.
She is also a professor at the University of Toronto, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Dr. Miller has made some extraordinary discoveries over the course of her career.
Her discovery of stem cells in the second layer of the skin provided the conceptual basis for using skin as a major source for genesis of human stem cells. The stem cells she discovered are critical for the repair of injured skin.
At the same time, Dr. Miller discovered new mechanisms determining whether nerve cells live or die. These findings initiated new fields of research that have major implications for our understanding of neurodegenerative disorders.
Dr. Miller has made significant contributions to understanding how stem cells build the brain during normal development. This research helps to explain how stem cell building can go awry in disorders such as autism. This led to her recent discovery that the commonly used diabetes drug, called metformin, can be used to promote repair of the injured brain.
These outstanding discoveries have been widely recognized within the scientific community. They have also led to clinical trials for therapies that “wake up” our own stem cells to repair the injured brain and skin.
Dr. Miller has received numerous international awards.
She was selected as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Senior International Research Scholar (one of only 13 worldwide).
This year she was awarded the University of Calgary Medical School Alumna of the Year, and she won a Pioneer Award for Regenerative Medicine by the Marine Biological Laboratories in the U.S.
She was chosen by Radio Canada and La Presse in Quebec as “Personality of the Year in Science and Technology” for her skin stem cell discovery.
Beyond her research, Dr. Freda Miller contributes significantly to future generations of researchers. She is proud to have trained many young scientists. Twenty-five of the graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who trained in Dr. Miller’s laboratory now hold faculty positions at universities around the world.
Dr. Miller is a proud alumna of the Calgary public school system. She attended schools in Montgomery and Bowness for her primary and high school education. She also benefitted from the gifted program at Queen Elizabeth High School in her junior high years. From there, she obtained her PhD in Medical Sciences from the University of Calgary.
Dr. Miller is also accomplished in many other areas of her life. She plays the piano, sings in a community choir and is currently teaching Tae-Kwon-Do classes to the women in her laboratory -- she is qualified to teach as she has a third degree black belt.
Dr. Miller maintains strong ties to Calgary, which is still home to most of her family. She lives part time in Canmore.
Congratulations Dr. Freda Miller.
Trustee Richard Hehr, Trustee Julie Hrdlicka, Trustee Lisa Davis, Chair Marilyn Dennis, Dr. Freda Miller, Vice-Chair Althea Adams, Trustee Trina Hurdman, and Trustee Mike Bradshaw