James D. Jamieson, MD, PhD, professor of cell biology and former director of the Medical Science Training Program (MSTP), also known as the MD/PhD program, died on October 22 at age 84.
Jamieson was greatly admired for his seminal contributions to the field of cell biology and the elegance of his research, epitomized by the work that he did with George E. Palade, MD, for his doctorate and post-doctorate training at Rockefeller University. Those studies elucidated the cellular itinerary of newly synthesized proteins and revealed the path that they take as they move from their sites of synthesis in the endoplasmic reticulum through the Golgi complex, and finally to storage granules.
Jamieson's work established the functional relationship between cellular organelles first seen by electron microscopy as he was beginning his doctorate work. His subsequent studies described the specific roles of each compartment in making new proteins. The concepts established by this work continue to serve as a fundamental paradigm of modern cellular biology. His key contributions to establishing these foundational principles were acknowledged in Palade’s 1974 Nobel Prize lecture.
In 1973, Jamieson followed Palade to Yale, where he spent the rest of his academic career, which included service as chair of the newly created Department of Cell Biology from 1983 to 1992 and his election to the presidency of both the American Society for Cell Biology (1982–1983) and American Pancreatic Association (1989–1990).
Perhaps his greatest leadership legacy at Yale comes from the two terms (1974–1983; 1991–2014) that he served as the beloved director of the Yale Medical Scientist Training Program (MD/PhD). Under his direction, the MD/PhD program more than doubled in size and graduated more than 300 students with dual degrees. Many of the MD/PhD students who came through the program during the “Dr. J” era now hold academic leadership positions and are engaged in active research careers. His outstanding teaching was recognized by receipt of both the Bohmfalk Prize for Basic Science Teaching (1999) and the Teacher of the Year Award (2005). He considered his role as a mentor integral to being a scientist.
In addition to his academic contributions, Jamieson provided financial support, along with his family, to Yale and its MD/PhD program. Their financial endowment provided resources for trainees and also created the annual Folkers lectureship, which perpetuates the memory of Karl August Folkers, PhD, himself a renowned scientist, who was the father of Jamieson's late wife, Cynthia. Jamieson is survived by two daughters and five grandchildren.
Born in Armstrong, British Columbia, Canada, on January 22, 1934, Jamieson attended both college and medical school at the University of British Columbia.