SFU Canada Research Chairs Seminar Series: "Glycobiology: Recent Advances and the Development of Chemical Tools"

Thursday, January 28, 2010
11:30 - 12:30

Dr. David Vocadlo
Canada Research Chair in Chemical Glycobiology, Department of Chemistry


Carbohydrates are ubiquitous biological molecules found in organisms ranging from bacteria to humans. Within the cells of organisms specific carbohydrate building blocks, known as monosaccharides, are assembled by specialized enzymes into complex structures and attached to other parts of the cell. The resulting materials, known as glycoconjugates, are emerging as a new frontier in understanding the molecular biology of cells. Far from simply serving to maintain the structures of cells, or act as nutrients, these glycoconjugates have now been found to play vital roles within the cell; enabling communication between neighbouring cells, verifying the quality of other biomolecules made within the cell, and regulating how cells respond to their environments. This rapidly moving area of research, termed glycobiology, requires a multidisciplinary approach with contributions from chemistry and biology. A major impetus in the field glycobiology is the development of new chemical tools that can enable the perturbation and observation of glycconjugates of interest. This talk will focus on recent advances in understanding the different enzymes that assemble and dismantle glycoconjugates, the development of tools to perturb various glycoconjugates found in humans and bacteria, and the potential beneficial impact of these advances on human health.

About the Speaker

David Vocadlo completed his Ph.D. in 2002 and his interest in fusing chemistry and biology drew him to the the University of California at Berkeley where he was a CIHR Postdoctoral Fellow. He won the 2003 NSERC Doctoral Prize and in 2004 Dr. Vocadlo was appointed to the Department of Chemistry at Simon Fraser University where he is now an Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Chemical Glycobiology. He is a Scholar of the Michel Smith Health Research Foundation, an Affiliate of the Brain Research Centre at UBC, and an Associate Member of the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at SFU. Dr. Vocadlo collaborates extensively with researchers around the world and leads a talented team of 15 researchers at SFU that is using a multi-disciplinary approach to generate new tools to further our understanding of the role of glycans in health and disease.