Dr. McLean’s research career began at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, WA (2000-2007). He then established a research program at the non-profit J. Craig Venter Institute in San Diego, CA in 2007. He moved to the University of Washington School of Dentistry in 2014 and is a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Periodontics at the School of Dentistry with a joint appointment in Oral Health Sciences as well as an adjunct position in the Department of Microbiology at UW. For the past 21 years, his research has been primarily devoted to developing innovative methodologies, tools and new genomic based approaches to study microbial interactions within biofilm communities. Dr. McLean received his MSc at the University of Guelph in Canada and PhD at the University of Southern California. Currently, he is funded as a PI on multiple NIH awards to characterize the microbial processes that lead to oral diseases and maintain the health of the human oral microbiome.
The goal of the research in the McLean lab has been to gain an understanding for the molecular basis of bacteria-bacteria as well as bacteria-host interactions and further develop innovative methodologies, tools and integrated “omic” based approaches combined with wet-lab cultivation work on oral communities to ultimately translate this fundamental knowledge to the overall benefit of human health. His lab has extensive experience in next generation sequencing and combining omic approaches such as temporal resolved metatranscriptomic analysis (gene expression of all the microbes at once) in parallel with measuring global metabolites to reveal the homeostatic mechanisms of oral microbial communities. The lab tracks oral microbiome community assembly and maturation both in vitro and in vivo, capturing the temporal taxonomic and expression dynamics of key disease related species in direct association with the clinical host responses. Recent work of the team on the variation in human inflammatory responses to oral plaque bacteria leading to gum disease (gingivitis and chronic periodontitis) has links to overall systemic health.