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Guest Seminar - Dr. Warren Wakarchuk, University of Alberta.
Date: Thursday January, 26
Time: 11 am
Biosketch: Dr. Warren Wakarchuk received his PhD degree in microbiology from the University of British Columbia. He was a Research Officer at the National Research Council Canada for 19 years before taking a position in 2012 as a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biology at Ryerson University in Toronto (now known as Toronto Metropolitan University). He was Chair of the Department from 2016-2019. The Wakarchuk lab relocated to the University of Alberta in 2019 where he was recruited as the next scientific director of GlycoNet. At the University of Alberta, he is a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. He became the scientific director in November 2020.
Abstract: Most circulating human proteins carry covalent sugars, known as glycans. In the context of therapeutic proteins, these glycans contribute to the efficacy of these protein-based drugs. Glycans that are linked through Ser/Thr residues are known as O-glycans and are very understudied for their roles in protein therapeutics. We are applying synthetic biology to produce cytokines with defined glycans to better understand how they can be used to benefit protein-based drugs. The Wakarchuk lab investigates the structure and function of the enzymes which make and degrade various glycoconjugates. This work has been enabling the chemo-enzymatic synthesis of bioactive glycoconjugates both in the laboratory and for industrial projects. In collaboration with colleagues, he has contributed to several firsts in the field, among them being the cloning and characterization of the first bacterial sialyltransferase, the structure determination of the first sialyltransferase from any source as well the structure determination of the first mammalian sialyltransferase. Currently, the lab is using synthetic biology to examine O-glycan biosynthesis on therapeutic proteins.