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About Sickkids
About SickKids

September 26, 2012

Dr. Freda Miller receives prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute Senior International Research Scholar Award

By Sylvia Dick

The changing of the seasons has brought with it exciting news for the Research Institute. Senior Scientist Dr. Freda Miller has been selected as a Senior International Research Scholar by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).   This is a very rare honour, as she is one of only 13 scientists selected world-wide. Along with the prestigious title, Dr. Miller will receive a grant for her research at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). The funding will make way for five years of essential stem-cell research – an endeavor that is sure to carry on the SickKids mission of improving the health of children through patient care, research and learning.

The grant – a total of $500,000 USD – will be divided up over five years starting October 1, 2012.

“Dr. Miller is well known for her determination and brilliant scholarship. Her work contributes to the advancement of health sciences in a tangible way,” said Janet Rossant, Chief of Research at SickKids.

Dr. Miller discovered that stem cells could be harvested from human adult skin and be used to grow nerve cells.  She is now focused on a novel population of adult stem cells called Skin-derived Precursors (SKPs), which were identified, isolated, and characterized in her lab at SickKids.  Her work could potentially help treat people suffering from diseases or injury of the nervous system and the neural crest.  

This occasion is even more notable since this is Dr. Miller’s second time in a row to receive this title for her research.  

“I am thrilled to be selected once again,” Miller remarked. “With another award from the HHMI, my research on SKPs is able to continue in to new depths and reaches. For this I am very grateful.”

Along with her role as Senior Scientist in the Developmental & Stem Cell Biology Program at SickKids,  Dr. Miller is a Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics  at the University of Toronto, holds the Canada Research Chair in Developmental Neurobiology, and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.  

About the Howard Hughes Medical Institute 
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute is a non-profit organization and is one of the largest philanthropies in the United States. The role of the institute is to advance biomedical research and science education and this is achieved in part by continued financial support of scientists and institutions.  In 2011 the institute contributed $825 million towards research. The Senior International Research Scholar competition recognizes leaders in biomedical research living and working outside of the United States http://www.hhmi.org/