Professor David MacLennan OC FRS
David MacLennan is a biochemist best known for his work on the proteins that regulate the flow, or flux, of calcium through the sarcoplasmic reticulum — thereby regulating muscle contraction and relaxation. His findings have led to important discoveries in the field of muscle diseases caused by genetic defects in calcium regulatory proteins.
He developed a structural model for the relevant calcium pump based upon its amino acid sequence and the properties of over 250 altered pumps created using the technique of site-directed mutagenesis. Studies of these mutants led to new insight into the pump’s mechanism and provided an improved understanding of the genetic basis for human skeletal muscle conditions such as Brody myopathy and malignant hyperthermia.
David has been elected as a Fellow of a number of prestigious international societies and received many awards, including the Canada Gairdner International Award in 1991 and the Killam Prize of the Canada Council for the Arts in 1997. He became an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2001.
Interests and expertise
In recognition of his work on calcium regulatory proteins, particularly in the understanding of malignant hyperthermia (MH), central core disease (CCD), Brody disease and phospholamban, and applying his knowledge of the gene in MH to develop accurate diagnosis of disease in pigs. In addition to its valuable veterinary application, this work represents a particularly good example of the way in which basic science has been developed to the point at which it is widely applied.