Chemistry and Biochemistry

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Dr. Roman Przybylskiis an AVAC Chair in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Roman is working on (1) development of antioxidants for edible oils and food systems; (2) the effects of endogenous edible oil components on stability, performance and nutritional value; (3) assessment of food products and raw materials for compounds with nutritional and nutraceutical properties. Recent projects include (1) development of analytical techniques to assess antioxidant potency of different plant origin components: (2) assessment of chemical activity of minor oil components during frying; (3) formation of trans fatty acids during processing and food preparation; (4) Designing oils for specific food application by manipulating their composition: (5) formation of compounds with negative health and nutritional effects during food processing.

Dr. Hans-Joachim Wieden is a Canada Research Chair in Physical Biochemistry. HJ is studying Molecular Mechanisms of Antibiotics. With the steady emergence and spread of antibiotic resistant pathogens, the development of new antibiotics is increasingly important. This research program focuses on the study of antibiotic function in order to develop novel antibiotics. In particular antibiotics that target the cellular machinery of the pathogen, that is responsible for translating genetic information into functional proteins. A process called translation. The detailed mechanistic understanding of the involved processes is of fundamental importance for the development of new types of antibiotics. In his research program he approaches the problem of how antibiotics interfere with these processes, in order to inhibit translation, on the molecular level. His research group is working to identify molecular requirements for the inhibition of translation, to analyze how cell resistance mechanisms work and, to identify chemical compounds that will effectively inhibit translation. This research will significantly contribute to our understanding of the structural and functional requirements of antibiotic function, providing the framework for rational inhibitor design.

During translation, growth of the polypeptide chain is facilitated by consecutive binding of two Elongation factors (EF), Tu and G, to the elongating ribosome. Protein molecules are intrinsically flexible, and typically undergo a wide variety of motions at normal temperatures. Crystal structures of the free EFs as well as Cryo-electron microscopic studies of ribosome-bound EFs are being done to demonstrate conformational flexibility and function of these factors. HJ’s work focuses around a unique combination of state-of-the-art biophysical techniques involving fluorescence spectroscopy, fast kinetics (Quench Flow / Stopped Flow), biochemistry, molecular biology, and molecular dynamics.

HJ coordinates student participation in iGEM at the university and is interested in development of applications in biotechnology that can help bridge the gap from academics to industry.