Dr. Michael J.W. Johnston

Research Scientist

Leading a research team to understand how nanomaterials interact with therapeutic proteins in biotherapeutics with nano-scale formulations and to determine the consequences of these interactions.

Current research and/or projects

Investigating the interaction of therapeutic proteins with nanomaterials in biotherapeutics with nano-scale formulations and examining how nanomaterials alter therapeutic protein structure, stability and function.  

Research and/or project statements

  • Adapting and developing novel methodologies to further understand the interaction of therapeutic proteins and nanomaterials.
  • Participating in collaborative studies to further understand how subvisible protein particles impact the use of protein therapeutics.
  • Providing support and expertise for health product review and regulation – nanotechnology and protein aggregates.
  • Providing support and expertise for policy development - nanotechnology.
  • Providing support for particle sizing for multiple departments/groups in a collaborative manner.

Professional activities / interests

  • Member of Health Portfolio Nanotechnology working group.
  • Member of International Regulators for Nanotechnology: Pharmaceuticals working group.
  • Reviewer for NSERC's Industrial Research and Development Fellowship program.
  • Provide scientific advice to management and health product regulatory reviewers.
  • Supervisor for a number of Co-op students.

Education and awards

  • B.Sc. Biology, University of Victoria, 1997
  • PhD. Biochemisty and Molecular Biology, University of British Columbia, 2006, NSERC scholarship
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, University of British Columbia, 2006-2007
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Health Canada, 2007-2008, NSERC Visiting Fellow

Key publications

Frahm, G.E., Cameron, B.E, Smith, J.C., Johnston, M.J.W. 2013. Generation of fatty acids from 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine/ cardiolipin liposomes that stabilize recombinant human serum albumin. Journal of Liposome Research. 23 (2): 101-109 http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.3109/08982104.2012.747535

Frahm, G.E., Cyr, T.D., Smith, D.G.S., Walrond, L.D., Johnston, M.J.W. 2012. Investigation of the differences in thermal stability of two recombinant human serum albumins with 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine liposomes by uv circular dichroism spectropolarimetry. Journal of Physical Chemistry B. 116(15): 4661-4670 http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jp2125729

Johnston, M.J.W., Frahm, G., Li, X., Durocher, Y., Hefford, M.A. 2011. O-linked glycosylation leads to decreased thermal stability of interferon alpha 2b as measured by two orthogonal techniques. Pharmaceutical Research 28(7): 1661-1667 http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11095-011-0402-0

Mark, J.K., Johnston, M.J.W., Hefford, M.A. 2010. Identification of N- and C-terminal residues involved in MAP kinase phosphatase 3 (MKP3) interdomain binding and auto-inhibition. Protein and Peptide Letters 17(10): 1305-1310 http://www.eurekaselect.com/86683/article

Johnston, M.J.W., Nemr, K., Hefford, M.A. 2010.Influence of bovine serum albumin on the secondary structure of interferon alpha 2b as determined by far UV circular dichroism spectropolarimetry. Biologicals 38(2): 314-320 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1045105609001821

Johnston, M.J.W., Edwards, K., Karlsson, G., Cullis, P.R. 2008. Influence of drug-to-lipid ratio on drug release properties and liposome integrity in liposomal doxorubicin formulations. Journal of Liposome Research 18 (2): 145-157

Johnston M.J.W. and Hefford M.A. On the Utility of Circular Dichroism Spectropolarimetry in Assessing Protein Interactions with Nanoparticles. 2012. 281-300 In Circular Dichroism: Theory and Spectroscopy ed. Rogers D.S. Nova Publishers. https://www.novapublishers.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=32798

Policy Statement on Health Canada's Working Definition for Nanomaterial http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/sr-sr/pubs/nano/pol-eng.php

Research facility

251 Sir Frederick Banting Driveway
Ottawa, ON K1A 0K9


  • Member of the American Chemical Society
  • Member of the Controlled Release Society
  • Member of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) College of Reviewers