Citation - 2010 Friesen Prize - Shirley Tilghman
Shirley Tilghman

Shirley M. Tilghman was elected Princeton University’s 19th president on May 5, 2001, and assumed office on June 15, 2001. An exceptional teacher and a world-renowned scholar and leader in the field of molecular biology, she served on the Princeton faculty for 15 years before being named president.

Tilghman, a native of Canada, received her Honors B.Sc. in chemistry from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, in 1968. After two years of secondary school teaching in Sierra Leone, West Africa, she obtained her Ph.D. in biochemistry from Temple University in Philadelphia.

During postdoctoral studies at the National Institutes of Health, she made a number of groundbreaking discoveries while participating in cloning the first mammalian gene, and then continued to make scientific breakthroughs as an independent investigator at the Institute for Cancer Research in Philadelphia.

Tilghman came to Princeton in 1986 as the Howard A. Prior Professor of the Life Sciences. Two years later, she also joined the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as an investigator. In 1998, she took on additional responsibilities as the founding director of Princeton’s multi-disciplinary Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics.

A member of the National Research Council’s committee that set the blueprint for the U.S. effort in the Human Genome Project, Tilghman also was one of the founding members of the National Advisory Council of the Human Genome Project for the National Institutes of Health.

She is renowned for her pioneering research in mammalian developmental genetics, for her national leadership on behalf of women in science, and for promoting efforts to make the early careers of young scientists as meaningful and productive as possible.

From 1993 through 2000, Tilghman chaired Princeton’s Council on Science and Technology, which encourages the teaching of science and technology to students outside the sciences, and in 1996 she received Princeton’s President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching. She initiated the Princeton Postdoctoral Teaching Fellowship, a program across all the science and engineering disciplines that brings postdoctoral students to Princeton each year to gain experience in both research and teaching.

In 2002, Tilghman was one of five winners of the L’Oréal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science. In the following year, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for Developmental Biology, and in 2007, she was awarded the Genetics Society of America Medal for outstanding contributions to her field.

Tilghman is a member of the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the Royal Society of London. She serves as a trustee of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, and as a director of Google Inc.


November 29, 2011 – Shirley M. Tilghman (2010 Friesen Prizewinner) will Co-Chair the next Canada Excellence Research Chairs Competition

Government of Canada launches new competition for 10 Canada Excellence Research Chairs

Announcement builds on early successes of flagship Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERC) Program

(WATERLOO, ONTARIO, November 28, 2011)—The Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology), today announced the launch of a competition to fund 10 new Canada Excellence Research Chairs.

The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of supporting leading-edge research and world-class researchers,” said Minister Goodyear. “Canada Excellence Research Chairholders are some of the world’s leading minds, and their presence in our universities will create jobs and long-term economic growth, as well as enable Canada to be at the cutting edge of innovative research.”

The federal government is committing $53.5 million over five years for the creation of the 10 new chairs. Their work will enable Canada to be at the leading edge of research breakthroughs that are expected to generate significant social and economic benefits for all Canadians.

Launched in 2008, the CERC program was designed to attract and retain the world’s best researchers. The first group of chairholders was announced in May 2010, and they have each demonstrated exceptional leadership in their fields of research at institutions across the country.

“The focus on the digital economy as a key area of research will help put Canada at the forefront of a field that is of vital importance to our future prosperity,” said Chad Gaffield, president of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and chair of the program’s steering committee. “The Canada Excellence Research Chairs Program helps Canadian universities compete in the global market for research talent, and this new competition will further strengthen Canada’s hand.”

Chairholders will be selected through a highly competitive and rigorous two-stage process. In Phase 1, Canadian universities will compete for the opportunity to establish chairs at their institution. In Phase 2, short-listed universities will nominate leading researchers to a limited number of positions. An independent selection board recommends the appointment of chairholders to the program steering committee, based on the highest standards of research excellence. Derek Burney, senior strategic advisor to Norton Rose OR LLP, and Shirley Tilghman, president of Princeton University, have been appointed chair and co-chair of the selection board, respectively.

“This announcement is very good news for the Canadian research community,” said Suzanne Fortier, president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). “The presence in our universities of the Canada Excellence Research Chairs significantly strengthens Canada’s research capacity and enables Canada to be at the cutting edge of innovative research.”

“The new competition shows that Canada is serious about research,” said Alain Beaudet, president of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). “The Canada Excellence Research Chairs Program is part of a powerful suite of funding programs that supports researchers at every stage of their career and enhances Canada’s standing as a global centre of excellence in research, innovation and higher learning.”

Further details about the competition are available at

For more information, please contact:

Stephanie Thomas
Special Assistant (Communications)
Office of the Honourable Gary Goodyear
Minister of State (Science and Technology)
Tel.: 613-960-7728

Michael Adams
Communications Advisor
Canada Excellence Research Chairs Program
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
Tel.: 613-944-1758
Cell: 613-219-7523