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James Jamieson MD, PhD

Professor of Cell Biology; Special Advisor, MD/PhD Program

Contact Information

James Jamieson, MD, PhD

Office Location

Mailing Address

  • Cell Biology

    E.S. Harkness Bldg D, 367 Cedar Street ESH 317

    New Haven, CT, 06510

    United States

James Jamieson
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For most of Jamieson's research career, he focused on the processes of synthesis, trafficking and exocytosis of secretory proteins from the pancreatic acinar cell which has served as the paradigm for examining the “Intracellular Aspects of the Process of Protein Secretion”*.

His early work as a graduate student with George Palade at the Rockefeller University was involved in defining the role of the Golgi complex in the process which culminates in the formation of zymogen granules. Subsequently, among other topics, his laboratory examined the development and regulation of exocytosis of secretory proteins from the acinar cell, membrane biogenesis and polarity in epithelial cells, and the relationship of cell polarity to the basement membrane.

Later work on this topic examined in detail the role of low Mr GTPases in regulated exocytosis. Since regulated exocytosis is accompanied by compensatory endocytosis of excess membrane inserted into the apical plasmalemma, we went on to illustrate an essential role of the actin cytoskeleton in this process and have demonstrated that proteins required for formation of endocytic vesicles (clathrin, adaptors, dynamin etc.) assemble at sites of exocytosis prior to compensatory membrane retrieval. After more than 30 years carrying out cell biologic research with an impressive and accomplished group of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, Jamieson closed his laboratory in 2001 in order to focus interests on teaching Cell Biology and Histology to first-year medical students.

He also directed the MD/PhD Program at Yale University School of Medicine (1974–1983; 1991–2014). This allowed him to be involved in the education of both medical students and graduate students. The dual degree Program is meant to provide trainees with a broad exposure to human biology and medicine, and to an in-depth and rigorous training in one of the scholarly disciplines relevant to medicine. The ultimate goal of educating this group of students is to bridge the gap between basic research and clinical medicine.

*Palade, G.E. Intracellular Aspects of the Process of Protein Secretion. Nobel Lecture, December 12, 1974. published in Science, 189:347-358, 1975.

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James Douglas Jamieson, MD, PhD


Jim Jamieson was a Professor of Cell Biology and faculty member of the Yale School of Medicine since 1973. He made remarkable contributions in science and education and he held key leadership roles both at Yale and nationally.

Jim was born in rural Canada (Armstrong, BC) in 1934, and attended both college and medical school at the University of British Columbia. Jim’s love for science began with an unusual experience for that time; doing basic science research as a medical student. His studies resulted in publication of experiments related to the physiologic regulation of blood pressure and earned him both election to AOA and the E.W. Hamber Gold Medal Prize at his medical school graduation in 1960. Wishing to advance his basic science career, Jim moved to Rockefeller University to work with George Palade, an emerging leader in the new discipline of cell biology. He received his doctorate degree in 1966. After also doing post-doctoral work with George at Rockefeller, Jim followed his mentor to Yale in 1973 to establish the Section of Cell Biology, where he spent the rest of his academic career. While at Yale Jim held several key leadership roles. These included his 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 are terms (1974–1983; 1991–2014) that he served as the beloved director of the Yale Medical Scientist Training Program (MD/PhD). Under his direction, our MD/PhD program more than doubled in size and graduated more than 300 students with dual degrees. Many of the former MD/PhD students who came through the program during the “Dr. J.” era hold academic leadership positions and are engaged in active research careers; some of these graduates were fortunate enough to have studied in Jim’s lab. Jim was recognized as an inspiring and dedicated educator by students in the MD/PhD program as well by students throughout the Medical School. 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). In addition to his passion for educating young medical, doctorate, and MD/PhD students, Jim took enormous joy in reminding us of the value of life outside of work. Indeed, one of Jim’s great loves was to share time with students on his sailboat, the CYLAN II, where they joined him in the sometimes-successful activity of dodging the rocks, reefs, and sandbars of Long Island Sound.

Among Jim’s many achievements are the seminal discoveries that he made through his research. These are epitomized by the work that he did with George Palade for his doctorate and post-doctorate training at Rockefeller University. Those remarkably elegant 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. Jim’s work established the functional relationship between cellular organelles that others had seen for the first time 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 Jim’s work continue to serve as a fundamental paradigm of modern cellular biology. His key contributions to establishing these foundational principles were acknowledged in George Palade’s 1974 Nobel Prize lecture.

In addition to his academic contributions, Jim and his family donated very generous tangible support to Yale and its MD/PhD Program. Their financial endowment provided resources for trainees and also created the annual Folkers lectureship, which was donated by the Jamieson family in order to perpetuate the memory of the father (Karl August Folkers) of Jim’s late wife, Cynthia, who was himself a renowned scientist.

Education & Training

  • MA
    Yale University, Honorary (1975)
  • PhD
    Rockefeller University (1966)
  • MD
    University of British Columbia (1960)

Honors & Recognition

AwardAwarding OrganizationDate
Teacher of the Year Award, Class of 2008Yale University School of Medicine2005
Bohmfalk Prize for teaching excellence in the basic sciences1999
Distinguished Achievement AwardAmerican Gastoenterological Association1993
NIH Merit Award, R-37-DK173891988
Honorary Medical StaffYale New Haven Hopsital1987
The Eric W. Hamber Gold Medal & Prize1960
Horner Gold Medal ( Internal Medicine)1960
Alpha Omega Alpha1960

Professional Service

American Pancreatic AssociationPresident1989 - 1990
American Society of Cell BiologyPresident1982 - 1983

Departments & Organizations