Link to James Mitchell, Ph.D.’s Obituary in Cell Metabolism written by colleagues Michael Ristow, Chih-Hao Lee, Katrien De Bock, Vadim N. Gladyshev, Gökhan S. Hotamisligil, and Brendan D. Manning.
Remarks from A Celebration of the Life and Achievements of James Mitchell, Ph. D., January 29, 2021
Michelle A. Williams, Ph.D.
Dean of the Faculty, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
The Harvard Chan School community mourns the loss of Professor James R. Mitchell, “Jay”. He will be remembered for his scientific excellence and dedicated mentoring. Known for his research focused on nutritional, genetic, and molecular mechanisms of adaptive stress resistance his lab’s research sought to prevent cancer, diabetes, obesity, and other age-related illnesses by means of lifestyle changes, particularly dietary.
Jay received his B.A. in 1993 from the University of Virginia in interdisciplinary studies, he went on to earn a Ph.D. in 2000 from the University of California Berkeley in molecular and cell biology. In his postdoctoral work at the Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam his research focused on DNA repair and aging. It was during this time his interest in molecular and systematic causes of aging started. This curiosity developed into Jay becoming a world-renowned expert in the field of aging biology. In 2007, he started his Assistant Professor position at the Harvard Chan School in the Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2013. He went onto obtain tenure in 2018. Jay transitioned from the Harvard Chan School to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich just over a year ago where he held the role of Professor. Jay continued to have an adjunct appointment in the Department of Molecular Metabolism at the Harvard Chan School.
Jay was recognized many times for contributions to his field with several awards including the Glenn Award, the American Association of Aging Award, and the Ellison Medical Foundation Award. During his academic career, he was a caring mentor to the faculty, staff, and students with whom he worked. Before leaving the School he advocated strongly and successfully for higher postdoc compensation. He was known for his sense of humor, welcoming nature, and academic curiosity.
The Harvard Chan School community will forever remember Jay and his legacy of scientific excellence and dedicated mentoring. He made our School a better place and furthered scientific understanding. We send our deepest condolences to Jay’s family- his wife Elisabeth and their three sons, Ian, Lucas, and Darius.
James Mitchell’s family, friends, and colleagues share remembrances.
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