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Colin Crist

Colin Crist, PhD

Molecular & Regenerative Medicine

Developmental biology, Muscle stem cells, Regenerative medicine, Skeletal muscle
  • Senior Investigator and Associate Director for Human Disease Modeling, Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research
  • Associate Professor, Department of Human Genetics, McGill University

Contact details

(514) 340-8222 ext. 28541

Assistant contact details

  • Victoria Richard,
    Laboratory Manager
    (514) 340-8222 ext. 28540


We have developed a multidisciplinary research program that incorporates molecular genetics, stem cell biology, developmental biology, and synthetic biology to investigate the molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in the development of muscle stem cells during both normal and pathological conditions.

Major Research Activities

Skeletal muscles are crucial for movement, and their proper functioning is essential for maintaining health and quality of life. However, aging, injury, and diseases such as muscular dystrophy can impair muscle function, leading to reduced mobility, decreased independence, and lower quality of life. To combat these issues, our lab is dedicated to researching the fundamental biology of muscle stem and progenitor cells, which play critical roles in muscle regeneration and development.


Our research involves studying the molecular pathways that regulate muscle stem cell activity, identifying key molecules and signaling pathways that influence muscle regeneration and development. We use a combination of cutting-edge techniques, including genetics, advanced imaging, and molecular and cellular biology approaches. By investigating fundamental mechanisms regulating the activity of muscle stem cells, we reveal novel pharmacologically targetable pathways. Our goal is to develop innovative, stem cell based treatments to improve muscle function and quality of life for individuals affected by muscle disease and injury. The major research themes of our laboratory are as follows:

  • Translational control of gene expression regulates muscle stem cell activity. Muscle stem cells require tightly regulated protein synthesis. We reveal mechanisms that impact global rates of protein synthesis, combined with selective translation of mRNA, which are together required to regulate the activity of muscle stem cells.
  • G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the most abundant type of cell surface receptors in mammals and are the pharmacological target of approximately a third of all drugs. Nevertheless, their specific roles in stem cells and regenerative medicine are largely unknown. Our research aims to fill this gap by uncovering how GPCRs regulate muscle stem cell activity.
  • The 3D genome refers to the particular manner by which DNA is folded and arranged inside the chromosome. In our research, we examine the 3D genome during muscle development to gain insight into the regulation of gene expression. This allows us to understand how gene expression is activated or repressed, and how this process directs an undifferentiated cell to become skeletal muscle.
  • Synthetic biology is involved with designing and engineering biological systems to perform new functions. We are creating synthetic biology circuits to be integrated into muscle stem cells, enabling us to give skeletal muscle new therapeutic functions.

Recent Publications and References