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Prof. Matthew Harrington is Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair Tier 2 in Green Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry at McGill University, as well as co-director of the McGill Institute of Advanced Materials (MIAM). He received his Ph.D. in 2008 from the University of California, Santa Barbara in the lab of J. Herbert Waite. This was followed by a Humboldt postdoctoral fellowship at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in the Department of Biomaterials, where he was later a research group leader from 2010 until 2017. His research is focused on understanding biochemical structure-property relationships in the function and formation of biological materials and applying extracted design principles for the development and sustainable production of bio-inspired materials.


Bio-inspired Materials Processing Biological materials provide a blueprint for enhancing the properties of man-made materials and for improving the sustainability of the processes by which they are fabricated. Our group investigates several role model materials to elucidate underlying structure function relationships that are then adapted for designing advanced materials. To achieve these goals, we take a cross-disciplinary approach combining both traditional and advanced methodologies from across physical chemistry, biochemistry, materials chemistry, and engineering.


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Poulhazan, A., Baer, A., Daliaho, G., Mentink-Vigier, F., Arnold, A.A., Browne, B., Hering, L., Archer-Hartmann, S., Pepi, L.E., Azadi, P., Schmidt, S., Mayer, G., Marcotte, I. and Harrington, M.J. (2023) Phosphonated glycans as post-translational modifications of proteins in velvet worm slime ChemrXiv. Preprint. Baer, A., Hoffmann, I., Mahmoudi, N., Busch, S., Harrington, M.J., Mayer, G., Schmidt, S. and Schneck, E. (2023) The internal structure of the velvet worm projectile slime: A small-angle scattering study. Small. 10.1002/smll.202300516. Lachance-Brais, C., Rammal, M., Asohan, J., Katolik, A., Luo, X., Saliba, D., Jonderian, A., Damha, M., Harrington, M. J., and Sleiman, H. (2023) A small molecule-templated, multi-stimuli responsive and stiff DNA hydrogel integrates and releases DNA nanostructures and therapeutic nucleic acids. Advanced Science. 10.1002/advs.202205713. Youssef, L., Renner-Rao, M., Eren, E.D., Jehle, F., and Harrington, M.J. (2023) Fabrication of tunable mechanical gradients by mussels via bottom-up self-assembly of collagenous precursors. ACS Nano. 17, 2294-2305. Rising, A. and Harrington, M.J., (2023) Biological materials processing: Time-tested tricks for sustainable fiber fabrication. Chemical Reviews. 123, 2155-2199. Khurshid, B., Jackson, D.J., Engilberge, S., Motreuil, S., Broussard, C., Thomas, J., Immel, F., Harrington, M.J., Crowley, P.B., Vielzeuf, D., Perrin, J., and Marin, F.* (2023) Molecular characterization of accripin11, a soluble shell protein with an acidic C-terminus, identified in the prismatic layer of the Mediterranean fan mussel Pinna nobilis (Bivalvia, Pteriomorphia). FEBS Open Bio. 13, 10. Renner-Rao, M., Jehle, F., Priemel, T., Duthoo, E., Fratzl, P., Bertinetti L., and Harrington, M.J. (2022) Mussels fabricate porous glues via liquid-liquid phase separation of multi-protein condensates. ACS Nano. 16, 20877-20890. Horbelt, N., Fratzl, P.* and Harrington, M.J.* (2022) Mistletoe viscin: A hygro- and mechano-responsive cellulose-based adhesive for diverse materials applications. PNAS Nexus. 1, pgac026. Abdali, Z., Renner-Rao, M., Chow, A., Harrington, M.J., Dorval Courchesne, N.* (2022) Extracellular secretion and simple purification of bacterial collagen from E. coli. Biomacromolecules. 23, 1557–1568. Waite, J.H. and Harrington, M.J. (2022) Following the thread: Mytilus mussel byssus as an inspired multi-functional biomaterial. Canadian Journal of Chemistry. 100, 197–211. Priemel, T., Palia, G., Förste, F., Jehle, F., Sviben, S., Mantouvalou, I., Zaslansky, P., Bertinetti, L. and Harrington, M.J. (2021) Microfluidic-like fabrication of a metal ion-cured bioadhesive by mussels.. Science.. 374, 206-211. Waite, J.H. and Harrington, M.J. (2021) Following the thread: Mytilus mussel byssus as an inspired multi-functional biomaterial.. Canadian Journal of Chemistry. DOI:10.1139/cjc-2021-0191. Mesko, M., Xiang, L., Bohle, D.S., Hwang, D.S., Zeng H.* and Harrington, M.J. (2021) Catechol-vanadium binding enhances cross-linking and mechanics of a mussel byssus coating protein. Chemistry of Materials. 33, 6530-6540 Amstad, E. and Harrington, M.J. (2021) From vesicles to materials: Bio-inspired strategies for fabricating hierarchically structured soft matter. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A. 379, 20200338. Jehle, F., Priemel, T., Strauss, M., Fratzl, P., Bertinetti, L. and Harrington, M.J. (2021) Collagen pentablock copolymers form smectic liquid crystals as precursors for mussel byssus fabrication. ACS Nano. doi.org/10.1021/acsnano.0c10457. Harrington, M.J. and Fratzl, P. (2021) Natural load-bearing protein materials. Progress in Materials Science. 120, 100767 Song, G., Delroisse, J., Schoenaers, D., Horbelt, N., Kim, H. B., Nguyen, T. C., Leclère, P., Hwang, D. S., Harrington, M. J. and Flammang, P. (2020) Structure and composition of the tunic in the sea squirt Halocynthia roretzi: a complex cellulosic composite biomaterial. Acta Biomaterialia. 111, 290-301. Priemel, T. Palia, R., Babych, M., Thibodeaux, C., Bourgault, S. and Harrington, M. J. (2020) Compartmentalized processing of catechols during mussel byssus fabrication determines the destiny of DOPA. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. 117, 7613-7621. Jehle, F., Macias-Sanchez, E., Sviben, S., Fratzl, P., Bertinetti, L. and Harrington, M. J. (2020) Biofabrication of functional meso-structured metallo-protein composites using co-existing condensed liquid phases. Nature Communications. 11, 862. Cerullo, A., Lai, T. Y., Allam, B., Baer, A., Barnes, W. J. P., Barrientos, Z., Deheyn, D. D., Fudge, D. S., Gould, J., Harrington, M. J., Holford, M., Hung, C.S., Jain, G., Mayer, G., Medina, M., Monge-Nájera, J., Napolitano, T., Espinosa, E. P., Schmidt, S., Thompson, E. M. and Braunschweig, A. B. (2020) Comparative animal mucomics: Inspiration for functional materials from ubiquitous and understudied biopolymers. ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering. DOI: 10.1021/acsbiomaterials.0c00713. Pasche, D., Horbelt, N., Marin, F., Motreuil, S., Fratzl, P. and Harrington, M. J. (2019) Self-healing silk from the sea: Role of helical hierarchical structure in Pinna nobilis byssus mechanics. Soft Matter. 10.1039/C9SM01830A. Renner-Rao, M., Clark, M., and Harrington, M. J. (2019) Fiber formation from liquid crystalline collagen vesicles isolated from mussels. Langmuir. 10.1021/acs.langmuir.9b01932. Horbelt, N., Eder, M., Bertinetti, L., Fratzl, P. and Harrington, M. J. (2019) Unraveling the self-assembly process of stiff cellulosic fibers from mistletoe berries. Biomacromolecules. 10.1021/acs.biomac.9b00648. Baer, A., Oliveira, I.S., Schmidt, S., Harrington, M.J., and Mayer, G. (2019) Einblicke in den "Sekundenkleber" der Stummelfüßer. Biologie in unserer Zeit. 49, 418-425. Baer, A., Horbelt, N., Nijemeisland, M., Garcia, S.J., Fratzl, P., Schmidt, S., Mayer, G. and Harrington, M.J. (2019) Shear-induced beta-crystallite unfolding in condensed phase nanodroplets promotes fiber formation in a biological adhesive. ACS Nano 13, 4992-5001. Baer, A., Schmidt, S., Mayer, G. and Harrington, M.J. (2019) Fibers on the fly: Multiscale mechanisms of fiber formation in the capture slime of velvet worms. Integrative and Comparative Biology. 10.1093/icb/icz048. Tunn, I., Harrington, M. J., Blank, K. G. (2019) Bio-inspired histidine-Zn2+ coordination for tuning the mechanical properties of self-healing coiled coil-crosslinked hydrogels. Biomimetics 4, 25 Zechel, S., Hager, M. D., Priemel, T. and Harrington, M. J. (2019) Healing through histidine: Bio-inspired pathways to self-healing polymers via imidazole-metal coordination. Biomimetics. 4, 20 Tunn, I., de Léon, A.S., Blank, K.B. and Harrington, M.J. (2018) Tuning coiled coil stability with histidine-metal coordination. Nanoscale. DOI: 10.1039/C8NR07259K. Trapaidze, A., D'Antuono, M., Fratzl, P., Harrington, M.J. (2018) Exploring mussel byssus fabrication with peptide-polymer hybrids: Role of pH and metal coordination in self-assembly and mechanics of histidine-rich domains. European Polymer Journal. 109, 229-236. Baer, A., Hänsch, S., Mayer, G., Harrington, M.J. and Schmidt, S. (2018) Reversible supramolecular assembly of velvet worm adhesive fibers via electrostatic interactions of charged phosphoproteins. Biomacromolecules 19, 4034-4043. Harrington, M.J., Jehle, F. and Priemel, T. (2018) Mussel byssus structure-function and fabrication as inspiration for biotechnological production of advanced materials. Biotechnology Journal 13, 1800133. Pasche, D., Horbelt, N., Marin, F., Montreuil, S., Macias-Sanchez, E., Falini, G., Hwang, D.S., Fratzl, P. and Harrington, M.J. (2018) A new twist on sea silk: The peculiar protein ultrastructure of fan shell and pearl oyster byssus. Soft Matter DOI:10.1039/c8sm00821c. Jehle, F., Fratzl, P., Harrington, M.J. (2018) Metal-tunable self-assembly of hierarchical structure in mussel-inspired peptide films. ACS Nano. 12, 2160-2168. Montroni, D., Valle, F., Rapino, S., Fermani, S., Calvaresi, M., Harrington, M.J., Falini, G. (2018) Functional biocompatible matrices from mussel byssus waste. ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering. 4, 57-65..