Dr. James Edgar Till
© Irma Coucill and the CMHF
© Irma Coucill and the CMHF

Born: August 25, 1931, Lloydminster, Saskatchewan
Education: PhD - Yale University, 1957

Upon completing his Ph.D. at Yale University in 1957, James Till relocated to Toronto and focused his studies on cell biology and the radiation sensitivity of mammalian cells. Resulting from this research was a 1961 original paper published in Radiation Research on the radiation sensitivity of normal mouse bone marrow cells. The publication, produced jointly with colleague Ernest A. McCulloch, was a ground-breaking paper in stem cell biology, because it established for the first time a quantitative method to study individual stem cells in adult bone marrow. Over the next decade, Till and McCulloch made many contributions to the understanding of normal and abnormal blood cell development. They also established the concept of stem cells and set the framework in which stem cells are studied today. This work continues to influence the research of investigators world-wide in many fields of study. Since the 1980s, Dr. Till’s sphere of research has expanded to include quality of life research, clinical and epidemiological studies, and research ethics. Currently, he investigates decision making behaviours of cancer patients and those at high risk of cancer, and the influence of the Internet as a source for information, support and advocacy.

Besides his research accomplishments, Dr. Till has served on many national and international committees and in numerous leadership positions, including ones at the Ontario Cancer Institute (now part of the University Health Network), the University of Toronto and the National Cancer Institute of Canada. In 1969, he was awarded the Gairdner Foundation International Award (with E.A. McCulloch) and in 1994 he became an Officer of the Order of Canada. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Royal Society of London.

Dr. Till and Dr. Ernest McCulloch were jointly nominated and inducted into The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame. View the video that was prodcued to honour them both at our 2004 Induction Ceremony.