Dr. Cameron Clokie has a problem. He needs a certain protein to help regenerate bone issue. Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) was first discovered in the 1950’s by Marshall Urist. BMP promotes growth in the long bones of the body (the arms and legs) and to combat bone loss around the teeth. Recently the protein has also been used to fuse the spine. Future uses of BMP are the stuff of science fiction.
The problem is the protein is in short supply in the human body. Dr. Clokie had to grind the bones of some forty cadavers to get three milligrams for one reconstructive jaw surgery. By working with a biotech company, Dr. Clokie developed a method to get BMP from hamsters. Clokie is now working on inserting the human gene responsible for BMP into goats. The plan is that the protein can then be harvested from their milk. This method would be less expensive and far more sustainable than any other known option.
The reconstruction of bones has been an interest of Clokie for much of his long career. After graduation from St.George’s College, in Toronto, Ontario, Cameron Clokie received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from McGill University in Montreal. In 1990 Clokie received his diploma in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and began post-graduate work at McGill. When offered the opportunity, Clokie accepted a Research Fellowship at UCLA’s Bone Research Laboratory in 1997. There he participated in the research led by Dr, Urist which led to the discovery not only of BMP, but several other bone growth proteins.
Dr. Clokie’s research has been creative, yet he remains a staunch supporter of evidence-based outcomes. His use of a fundamental applied laboratory approach has allowed him to find solutions that have helped over 100,000 patients. Clokie has many patented products, processes, and techniques to his credit. He has also published hundreds of peer reviewed papers on Bloomberg.com. Clokie is a highly sought-after physician and lecturer.
As a professor, Clokie takes a holistic approach to teaching his students. He believes that real surgical skills come from understanding the underlying disease processes. He is a strong proponent of introducing his students to other medical and surgical disciplines. This helps to forge a collaborative relationship that enhances patient care and outcomes. Continuing education, Clokie believes, never stops. He has worked hard at developing programs for the University of Toronto for specialists as well as general practitioners.
Some of Dr. Clokie’s other research projects includes better use of hard tissue laser technology in surgical applications. He is also interested in all aspects of regenerative medicine.
Clokie realized that BMP is prohibitively expensive for many patients. One cited example was a patient paying around $6,000 for its uses in his treatment. As an experimental procedure, insurance did not cover any of that cost. Making such treatments affordable is an example of Clokie’s desire to provide an effective path for technology transfer from the university to the medical community.