David H. MacLennan, D.Sc., May 31, 2001

David H. MacLennan
B.S.A.(Man.); M.S., Ph.D.(Purdue); F.R.S.(Can.); F.R.S.(Lond.)

Dr. David H. MacLennan was raised on a farm at Crestview, Manitoba and completed high school at Swan River Collegiate Institute, receiving the Governor General's Medal. His interest in agriculture led him to obtain a B.S.A. from the University of Manitoba in 1959, majoring in plant science. He graduated with distinction, receiving the Lieutenant Governor's Gold Medal. He proceeded to Purdue University, receiving an M.S. in plant pathology in 1961 and a PhD in biology in 1963. He developed what were to become his career research interests at the Institute for Enzyme Research, University of Wisconsin, where he first studied as a Postdoctoral Fellow arid later became an Assistant Professor. He joined the Banting and Best Department of Medical Research of the University of Toronto in 1969, where he continues his research today. He served as Department Chairman from 1978 to 1990 and is currently the J.W. Billes Professor of Medical Research and University Professor.

Professor MacLennan has made fundamental contributions to the understanding of the mechanism of ion transport. He is a pioneer in work on the structure and function of the proteins of the sarcoplasmic reticulum, which regulate muscle contraction by controlling calcium ion concentrations in muscle. His early studies on mitochondrial electron transport components and the mitochondrial proton pump led him to a seminal study of the sarcoplasmic reticulum calcium pump. This work, begun in 1969 and continuing today, led him to the development of a theory on the mode of action of this ATPdependent calcium pump that has now been confirmed experimentally. Dr. MacLennan’s interest in calcium transport has resulted in studies that have made enormous contributions to the fields of human and animal health. He has led teams that defined the genetic basis for three important muscle diseases: malignant hyperthermia, central core disease and Brody disease. His studies on a related disease in swine resulted in a diagnostic test that has decreased the incidence of the disease dramatically and, ultimately, will eliminate it from swine populations, with substantial economic benefits to the industry. In these varied studies of human and animal diseases, he has been instrumental in the understanding of a novel field of muscle disease caused by defects in calcium-regulatory proteins.

David MacLennan has served on the advisory boards of the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Canada, the Medical Research Council of Canada and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. He has served as an Associate Editor of the Canadian Journal of Biochemistry and as an Editorial Board Member for the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Professor MacLennan has lectured throughout the world and, with his group, has published over 270 papers. His former students and postdoctoral fellows are employed in research at professorial ranks in Canada, the U.S., Japan, Australia, Italy, Israel and China. He is a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Canada (1985) and the Royal Society of London (1994). Professor MacLennan has received many awards, including the Ayerst Award of the Canadian Biochemical Society (1974), the International Lectureship Award of the Biophysical Society (1990), and the Gairdner Foundation International Award (1991). In 1993, he received the distinction of University Professorship, University of Toronto. He was the recipient of the Killam Prize (Health Sciences) of the Canada Council (1997) and the Royal Society Glaxo Wellcome Prize, Medal and Lecture (2000). In 2001, Dr. MacLennan was elected a Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States. This signal honour has been accorded only to ten other Canadians.