Justin A. MacDonald


Biochemistry & Molecular Biology


Carleton University, 1998

Contact information


Office: 403.220.8389


Office : HRICGAA20

Research and teaching

Vascular Research

  • protein biochemistry
  • drug discovery
  • functional proteomics
  • smooth muscle contraction
  • inflammasome


As a principal investigator, the primary focus of my research program is the investigation of smooth muscle biology in health and disease. The impaired regulation of smooth muscle contraction underlies many diseases/disorders, and my lab's activities are focused on molecular approaches for the treatment of various smooth muscle-associated diseases. Current surgical and interventional therapies, while efficacious in certain clinical settings, are primarily palliative and do not target the cause of the diseases. Thus, translational success in this research endeavor requires investigation of the molecular basis of smooth muscle function, identification of abnormalities (dysfunctional signaling pathways) leading to contractile pathologies, and development of strategies to reverse abnormalities. My research program now spans a wide range of approaches from contractile studies of vascular smooth muscle tissues to high-resolution protein structure determination and drug discovery initiatives. We are uniquely positioned with molecular reagents, core expertise with sophisticated assessment technologies, relevant experimental disease models. More recently, an emerging area of research in my lab is the study of the NLRP inflammasomes.


Links to publications: PubmedOCRID

Smoothelin-like 1 deletion enhances myogenic reactivity of mesenteric arteries with alterations in PKC and myosin phosphatase signaling. Sci Reports (2019) 9: 481 (doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-36564-0; PMID: 30679490)  

Shiga toxin/lipopolysaccharide activates caspase-4 and gasdermin D to trigger mitochondrial reactive oxygen species upstream of the NLRP3 inflammasome. Cell Reports (2018) 25(6): 1525-1536.e7 (doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2018.09.071; PMID: 30404007)

Targeting Pim kinases and DAPK3 to control hypertension. Cell Chem Biol (2018) 25(10): 1195-1207 
(doi: 10.1016/j/chembiol.2018.06.006; PMID: 30033129)


2019   University of Calgary BMB Department Schultz Award for General Excellence
2014   European Commission – Marie Curie International Incoming Fellow
2011   University of Calgary Deans’ Publication & Mentorship Prize
2010   University of Calgary BMB Department Associate Professor Award