Michael Ellison

Michael Ellison

Professor Emeritus

Ph.D, University of Toronto

Office: 780-492-6352
Fax: 780-492-0886


At the beginning of his career Mike Ellison's interests were primarily centred on the structure and function of complex biomolecules. More recently his interests have tended towards the possibility of constructing synthetic biological devices that perform useful functions.
He received his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto in 1983 for research focused on chromosome structure. He spent the next six years at MIT developing accurate computational approaches for predicting the physical behaviour of bio-macromolecules. There, his interests shifted toward understanding the ubiquitin system, an important cellular signaling pathway that formed the core of his research program at the University of Alberta from 1990 to 2003.
His current focus is on Synthetic Biology, an emerging discipline that sits at the interface between biology and engineering. The goal of this new field is to produce modular biological circuits of increasing sophistication using well-understood molecular components that can be reliably assembled into novel and useful forms of artificial life. As Synthetic Biology theme leader of the Bioconversions network, his current efforts are directed toward the creation of microbial systems with the capacity to produce high value chemical feed stocks from provincially available sources of biomass.
He continues to be a strong advocate for innovative science. He has served on the boards of Genome Prairie, the Alberta Network for Proteomic Innovation and has played a major role in bringing new technologies to the university through two multi-million dollar investments from the Canada Foundation for Innovation. He is actively engaged in the dissemination of synthetic biology to undergraduates with his involvement in iGEM, a student research competition held annually at MIT.

Selected Publications:

Accommodating space, time and randomness in network simulation
Ridgway D, Broderick G, Ellison MJ.
Curr Opin Biotechnol. (2006) Oct;17(5):493-8.

A life-like virtual cell membrane using discrete automata.
Broderick G, Ru'aini M, Chan E, Ellison MJ.
In Silico Biol. (2005) 5(2):163-78.

Localization, annotation, and comparison of the Escherichia coli K-12 proteome under two states of growth.
Lopez-Campistrous A, Semchuk P, Burke L, Palmer-Stone T, Brokx SJ, Broderick G, Bottorff D, Bolch S, Weiner JH, Ellison MJ.
Mol Cell Proteomics. (2005) Aug;4(8):1205-9.

Crystal structure of the human ubiquitin conjugating enzyme complex, hMms2-hUbc13.
Moraes TF, Edwards RA, McKenna S, Pastushok L, Xiao W, Glover JN, Ellison MJ.
Nat Struct Biol. 2001 Aug;8(8):669-73.