By Michael Brown
(Edmonton – April 10, 2015) The University of Alberta has been awarded four new Canada Research Chairs (CRC) to go along with one advancement, worth a total of $5.2 million.
New Tier 1 Chairs, designations that come with a $1.4-million award to be paid out over seven years, include business professor Michael Lounsbury, CRC in entrepreneurship and innovation, and chemistry researcher Todd Lowary, CRC in carbohydrate chemistry. Meanwhile, neurologist David Westaway was renewed as Tier 1 CRC in prion disease.
Lowary, who celebrated the official launch of the Canadian Glycomics Network, or GlycoNet, on April 10, says it is his hope to continue carbohydrate research excellence in the U of A’s Department of Chemistry that goes back a half century.
Beginning in the early 1950s, U of A chemistry professor Raymond Lemieux and his colleagues were the first to synthesize sucrose, which paved the way for the creation of new antibiotics and blood reagents. Chemistry professor David Bundle was part of the U of A team headed by Raymond Lemieux that developed the first synthetic blood-group antigens in the early 1970s. The achievements of Bundle’s lab, in which Lowary played an integral role, include a new sugar molecule to block the toxins caused by bacteria such as E. coli and cholera.
Lowary’s proposed research program will use carbohydrate chemistry to provide molecules that can be used to explore the function of carbohydrates, or glycans, in mycobacterial diseases, including tuberculosis, as well as food-borne infections including those caused by infection with campylobacters and E. coli.
“Broadly speaking, this university has had strength in this area for more than 50 years and I am proud to be a continuation of that legacy,” said Lowary.