Trinity Western University

Faculty Directory

Julia Mills, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Biology and Director of Biotechnology

  • Education

    B.Sc.H. (Biology), Queen's University, 1987.
    M.Sc. (Pharmacology and Toxicology), Queen's University, 1992.
    Ph.D. (Neuroscience), University of British Columbia, 1998.

  • Recent Publications

    Sikkema K.A. W., Strikwerda A., Assi K., Salh B. and Mills J.(2013) Regulation of Mitotic Cytoskeleton Dynamics and Cytokinesis by Integrin-Linked Kinase in Retinoblastoma Cells (Accepted with revisions to PLoS One)

    Gasgonia J., Digicaylioglu M., Oloumi A., Seigel G.M., Dedhar and Mills J. (2011) Insulin Attenuates Apoptosis in Neuronal Cells by an Integrin-Linked Kinase-Dependent Mechanism. (Accepted with revisions to PloS One)

    McDonald P. C., Oloumi A., Mills J., Dobreva I., Maidan M., Gray V., Wederell E. D., Bally M. B., Foster L. J., and Dedhar S. (2008) Rictor and Integrin-Linked Kinase Interact and Regulate AKT Phosphorylation and Cancer Cell Survival. Cancer Res. 68, 1618-1624.

    Assi K., Mills J., Owen D., Ong C., St. Arnaud R., Dedhar S., and Salh B. (2008).Integrin-Linked Kinase Regulates Cell Proliferation and Tumour Growth in Murine Colitis-Associated Carcinogenesis. Gut 57, 931-940.

    Mills J., Oloumi A., Mawji N.M., Wilson J., Rico B., Reichardt L.F., and Dedhar S. (2006) Integrin-Linked Kinase is Critical for Cerebellar Granule Cell Precursor Proliferation. J. Neurosci. 26, 830-840.

    Niewmierzycka A., Mills J., St-Arnaud R., Dedhar S., and Reichardt L.F. (2005) Integrin Linked Kinase (ILK) Deletion From Mouse Cortex Results In Cortical Lamination Defects Resembling Cobblestone Lissencephaly. J Neurosci. 25, 7022-31.

    Attwell S., Mills J., Troussard A., Wu C., and Dedhar S. (2003) Integration of Cell Attachment , Cytoskeletal Localization, and Signaling by Integrin-Linked Kinase (ILK), CH-ILKBP, and Tumor Suppressor PTEN. Mol. Biol. Cell 14, 4813-4825.

    Mills J., Digicaylioglu M., Legg A.T., Young C.E., Young S.S., Barr A.M., Fletcher L., O'Connor T.P., and Dedhar S. (2003) Role of Integrin-Linked Kinase in Nerve Growth Factor-Stimulated Neurite Outgrowth. J. Neurosci. 23, 1638-1648.

    Chen F., Yang D.-S., Pentanceska S., Yang A., Tandon A., Yu G., Rozmahel R., Ghiso J., Nishimura M., Zhang D.M., Kawarai T., Levesque G., Mills J., Levesque L., Song Y.-Q., Rogaeva E., Westaway D., Mount H., Gandy S., St. George-Hyslop P. and Fraser P.E. (2000) Carboxyl-terminal fragments of Alzheimer β-Amyloid Precursor Protein Accumulate in Restricted and Unpredicted Intracellular Compartments in Presenilin 1-Deficient Cells. J.B.C. 275, 36794-36802.

    Mills J. and Reiner P.B. (1999) MAPK is Involved in NMDA Receptor Regulation of APP Cleavage. Neurosci. 94, 1333-1338.

    Mills J. and Reiner P.B. (1999) Regulation of Amyloid Precursor Protein Cleavage. J. Neurochem. 72, 443-460.

    Mills J., Charest D.L., Lam F., Beyreuther K., Ida N., Pelech S.L. and Reiner P.B. (1997) Regulation of amyloid precursor protein catabolism involves the mitogen-activated protein kinase signal transduction pathway. J Neurosci. 17, 9415-9422.

    Mills J. and Reiner P.B. (1996) Phorbol esters but not the cholinergic agonists oxotremorine-M and carbachol increase release of the amyloid precursor protein in cultured rat cortical neurons. J Neurochem. 67, 1511-1518.

  • Memberships & Affiliations

    • Director of Biotechnology, The Department of Biology, Trinity Western University (2007 - Present)
    • Mentor, Student Biotechnology Network (SBN), Vancouver, BC (2007)
    • Founding Member of the Institutional Animal Care Committee (IACC), Trinity Western University (2009 – present)
    • Contributing Scientist, Strategic Science-Technology Branch, Natural Resources Canada (2010)
    • Ad hoc Committee Member for the New Research Science Extension and Vivarium Design and Completion, Faculty of Science, Trinity Western University (2010 - 2012)
    • Program Developer and for the Institute of Chronic Conditions and Aging, Trinity Western University (2011)
    • Founding Member of the Institute of Chronic Conditions and Aging, Trinity Western University (2012 – present)
  • Courses Taught at TWU

    Biotechnology Practicum I (BIOT 100)
    Biotechnology Practica II, III, IV (BIOT 200/300/400)
    Introduction to Biotechnology (BIOT 290)
    Human Histology (BIOL 343)
    Vertebrate Physiology (BIOL 345)
    Biotechnology and Christian Theology (BIOT 390)
    Advanced Biotechnology (BIOT 490)


  • Awards & Honours

    • Murdock Murdock College Research Program for Life Sciences Award (2013-2015)
    • Murdock College Research Program for Life Sciences Award (2011-2013)
    • Internal Research Award, Trinity Western University (2010)
    • Internal Research Award, Trinity Western University (2010)
    • Diabetes Research Endowment Fund, Trinity Western University (2009)
    • Medical Research Council Post-Doctoral Fellowship, University of British Columbia (2000 – 2002)
    • Medical Research Council Post-Doctoral Fellowship, University of Toronto (1999 – 2000)
    • Alzheimer Society of Ontario Post-Doctoral Fellow Award, University of Toronto (1998 – 1999)
    • Alzheimer Society of Canada Doctoral Award, University of British Columbia (1993 – 1997)
    • Graduate Student Travel Fund, University of British Columbia (1993 – 1994)
    • Friends of the Scottish Society Award, Queen’s University (1989 – 1991)
    • Eldon Boyd Fellowship, Queen’s University 
    • Leonard Foundation Award, Queen’s University


  • Area of Research

    A major focus in my lab is the study of retinoblastoma, a childhood tumour of the eye. This eye cancer is caused by inactivation of the tumour suppressor retinoblastoma (Rb), known for its regulation of cancer cell growth. Because this form of eye cancer arises from mutations to the Rb gene, this tumour suppressor was given the same name as the cancer that it caused when mutated. It has been subsequently found that loss of the Rb tumour suppressor function is a common phenomenon in many types of cancers and that patients who inherit mutations in the Rb tumour suppressor gene are at a much higher risk for developing other cancers throughout their lifetime. In normal cells, Rb stops cells from growing by controlling key steps in replication. While in cancer cells, loss of Rb allows cells to divide even when they have made mistakes in cell replication. We are currently looking at strategies to prevent growth of these cancer cells. One such strategy is to target integrin linked kinase (ILK). ILK is a protein whose expression is increased in these childhood tumours and ILK regulates the proliferation of these eye cancer cells. Cancer drugs that inhibit ILK are currently available. Targeting ILK may be a useful strategy to inhibit growth of retinoblastomas and the many other tumours where the Rb tumour suppressor has been inactivated.

    Julia Mills researches retinoblastoma


    Mills Lab (Past and Present):

    Laura Fraser ('09)
    Janica Gasgonia ('12)
    Rebecca Birkner ('12)
    William Sikkema 
    Arend Strikwerda ('11)
    Jake Noble
    Rose Duminuco

    j mills research-william-becca-janicaWilliam Sikkema, Rebecca Birkner, Dr. Julia Mills, Janica Gasgonia

    j mills research-arendArend Strikwerda 

    j mills research-jake-rose

    Rose Duminuco and Jake Nobel

Faculty of Natural and Applied Sciences

Department or Program:

Biology, and Biotechnology
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