Workshops & seminars

"Life at a crystal’s edge: The organic-inorganic interface in biomineralization"
Dr. Marc McKee (McGill)

Friday, October 14, 2016
2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Dr. Marc McKee


This event is free



Rafik Naccache


Richard J. Renaud Science Complex
7141 Sherbrooke W.
Room SP.S110



Reconciliation of the evolving interplay between organic moieties and inorganic crystals lies at the heart of modern biomineralization inquiry.  Recent biomineralization research in vertebrates has identified, characterized and described functions for key noncollagenous extracellular matrix proteins regulating crystal growth in the skeleton and dentition by binding to mineral.  Gene mutations affecting mineral-regulating proteins typically lead to bone and tooth nanocrystallites defective in number, size, shape and/or orientation, and can even potentially lead to changes in mineral type, such that these otherwise hard tissues become diseased, soft and/or brittle.  Several bone and tooth diseases will be discussed in terms of altered molecular determinants of mineralization. Some of these same proteins expressed in soft tissues undergoing pathologic calcification (like blood vessels) also inhibit ectopic crystal growth.  In calcium carbonate biomineralizing systems like inner ear otoconia and avian eggshells, similar proteins likewise regulate mineralization.  In addition to peptides and proteins, we also show that calcium carbonate (vaterite) chirality effects can be induced by chiral acidic amino acids.  This work was funded by CIHR and NSERC.

Dr. McKee is Full Professor (James McGill Professor), past FRSQ Chercheur-National, and previously Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Research (just completed after 17 years) in the Faculty of Dentistry at McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  He also has a joint appointment in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology in the Faculty of Medicine.  Dr. McKee obtained his Ph.D. in Anatomy and Cell Biology at McGill University, and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard University (and The Children’s Hospital) in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery in Boston.  Following almost a year at the Forsyth Institute in Boston, Dr. McKee spent 8 years at University of Montreal before moving to McGill in 1998.

Dr. McKee’s research program focuses on the mechanisms regulating biomineralization in bones, teeth and other biomineralizing systems, and more specifically, on the role of proteins in controlling the growth of calcium-phosphate and calcium-carbonate crystals in extracellular matrices.  He also studies pathologic calcification in tissues that do not normally mineralize.  His research is relevant to bone and tooth diseases affecting mineralization (the osteomalacias), and to debilitating calcification pathologies seen in, for example, cardiovascular disease (notably atherosclerosis, Monckeberg’s sclerosis and end-stage renal disease), urolithiasis (kidney stones) and arthritis. Among other journals, his work has been published in Nature, Nature Genetics, Cell, J. Experimental Medicine, J. Cell Biology, Genes & Development, Development, Circulation, Circulation Research, Advanced Materials, Biomaterials, J. Bone and Mineral Research and J. Dental Research.

He is the guest of Dr. Louis Cuccia

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