Dr. Christopher McMaster



Related information

Email: christopher.mcmaster@dal.ca
Phone: 902-494-6466
Mailing Address: 
CIHR Institute of Genetics, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building, Dalhousie University Suite 1A-1; 5850 College Street Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3H 4H7
Research Topics:
  • Biochemical genetics
  • Eukaryotic and prokaryotic genetics
  • Inherited diseases
  • Drug target identification
  • Drug discovery
  • Metabolism
  • Genetics
  • Genomics
  • Rare diseases
  • Biotechnology
  • Orphan drugs


  • BSc (University of Manitoba)
  • PhD (University of Manitoba)
  • PDF (Duke University Medical Center)

Research interests

Dr. Christopher McMaster is a professor of the Department of Pharmacology at Dalhousie University and Director of the Cheminformatics Drug Discovery Lab, which uses sophisticated software to design and then synthesize new drugs. Previous to this, he held a Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Biosignalling (the study of how messages are conveyed into cells by the interaction of a signal or a chemical messenger with a receptor incorporated into the cell membrane), and was the Assistant Dean for Graduate and Post-doctoral Studies in the Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University.

He currently serves on the scientific advisory board for the CIHR Institute of Genetics-sponsored Rare Disease Models and Mechanisms grant that connects the infrastructure and leadership of Canada’s gene discovery projects with scientific communities working with model organisms such as yeast, worms, zebra fish, fruit flies, and mice.

As a researcher, he is a recognized leader in genetics, biochemistry, and cell biology. His research is broad in interest, ranging from basic biochemistry and cell biology, to genomics to determine causal genes for human genetic diseases and drugs for their treatment, to ethical and policy considerations as the field of human genomics becomes increasingly applied to clinical diagnosis and care. He has led large research consortia including acting as Principal Investigator (PI) on a Genome Canada Large-Scale Applied Research project, co-PI on a large Canada Foundation for Innovation grant, and as PI on a large-scale Atlantic Innovation Fund project. He has identified a potential therapy, currently in Phase 2 trials, for congenital sideroblastic anemia, a disease which occurs when the bone marrow fails to produce a sufficient number of healthy red blood cells. He is also developing treatments for familial exudative vitreoretinopathy, a hereditary disorder that can cause vision loss, and for inherited Parkinson's disease.

Selected publications  

  • Fernandez-Murray, J.P., Prykozhij, S. Dufay, N., Steele, S., Gaston, D., Nasrallah, G., Coombs, A.J., and Liwski, R.S., Fernandez, C.V. Berman, J.N., and McMaster, C.R. (2016) Glycine and Folate Ameliorate Models of Congenital Sideroblastic Anemia. PLoS Genet. 12, e1005783
  • Robitaille, J., and McMaster, C.R. (2014) Treatment of Familial Exudative Vireoretinopathy Through S1PR2 Inhibition. US provisional patent filed May 2014; PCT CA2015/050503 filed June 15 2015.
  • Fernandez-Murray, J.P, and McMaster, C.R. (2016) Lipid Synthesis and Membrane Contact Sites: A Crossroad for Cellular Physiology. J. Lipid. Res. 57, 1778-1788
  • Gaspard, G. J., and McMaster, C.R. (2015) The Mitochondrial Quality Control Protein Yme1 is Necessary to Prevent Defective Mitophagy in a Yeast Model of Barth Syndrome. J Biol Chem. 290, 9284-98
  • Ahmed, M., Al-Khayat, A., Chioza, B.A., Fernandez-Murray, J.P., Cazenave-Gassiot, A., Wenk, M.R., Al-Salemi, F., Patton M.A., Silver, D.L., Baple, E.L., McMaster, C.R., and Crosby, A.H. (2017) A Mutation of EPT1 (SELENO1) Underlies a New Disorder of Kennedy Pathway Phospholipid Biosynthesis. Brain 140, 547-554
  • Dufay, J.N. , Fernandez-Murray, J.P. *, and McMaster, C.R. (2017) SLC25 Family Member Genetic Interactions Identify a Role for HEM25 in Yeast Electron Transport Chain Stability.  G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics 7, 1861-1873
  • Strynatka, K.A., Gurrola-Gal, M.C., Berman, J.N. and McMaster, C.R. (2018) Using Surrogate Genetics and Chemical Genetics in Model Organisms to Reveal Potential Therapies for Inherited and Acquired Human Genetic Diseases.  Genetics 208, 833-851
  • Boycott, K.M., Campeau, P.M., Pavlidis, P., Rogic, S., Oriel, C., Howley, H.E., Berman, J., Hamilton, R., Hicks, G., Lipshitz, H., Masson, J.Y., Shoubridge, E., Junker, A., Leroux, M., McMaster, C.R., Michaud, J., Turvey, S., Dyment, D., Innes, A.M., van Karnebeek, C., Lehman, A., Cohn, R., MacDonald, I., Rachubinski, R.,  Rossant, J., Frosk, P., Vandersteen, A., Wozniak, R., Lacaze-Masmonteil, T., Rankin, C., Hieter, P. (2020) The Canadian Rare Diseases Models and Mechanisms (RDMM) Network: Connecting Understudied Genes for Rare Diseases to Functional Characterization Research in Model Organisms. Am. J. Hum. Genet. 106, 143-153
  • Tavasoli, T., Lahire, S., Reid, T., Brodovsky, M., and McMaster, C.R. (2020) Genetic Diseases of the Kennedy Pathways for Membrane Synthesis. J. Biol. Chem. 295, 17877-886
  • Kaiyrzhanov, R., Dehghani, M., Reid, T., Mehrjardi, M.Y.V., Fernandez-Murray, J.P., Metanat, Z., Pitman, A., Houlden, H., Carroll, C., McMaster, C.R.+, Maroofiam, R.+ (2021) Defective Phosphatidylethanolamine Biosynthesis Leads to a Broad Spectrum of Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia. Brain 144, e30

            +Co-corresponding author

Selected awards and honours

  • Canada Research Chair in Biosignalling
  • Dalhousie University Student Union Award for Teaching Excellence in Graduate Studies
  • Nova Scotia Discovery Centre Innovator of the Year
  • Heart and Stroke Foundation Dr. Greg Ferrier Award
  • Medical Research Council of Canada Scholar