Stephen G. Withers received his B.Sc. in Chemistry from the University of Bristol in 1974 and his Ph.D. in mechanistic enzymology under the supervision of Michael Sinnott in 1977. After his postdoctoral fellowship research appointments with Professors Neil Madsen and Brian Sykes at the University of Alberta (1977–1982) he took a position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of British Columbia. He has subsequently risen through the ranks to his current position as Khorana Professor of Biological Chemistry and holds a Tier One Canada Research Chair in Chemical Biology. His interests are focused on understanding and exploiting the enzymes involved in the assembly and degradation of glycosidic bonds. Central to his research is the elucidation of the mechanisms of such enzymes using a wide range of tools. This information has then been used in the engineering and evolution of these enzymes for improved or novel activities, such as those of the Glycosynthases pioneered in his group. More recently he is exploiting the power of metagenomics for the high-throughput discovery of novel glycosidases. He has also developed several new classes of glycosidase inhibitors, including some currently being explored for the potential in the treatment of influenza and others for treatment of diabetes. He served as Scientific Director of the Canadian Protein Engineering Network of Centres of Excellence (PENCE) from 2000-05 and was founding director of the UBC Centre for High-Throughput Biology. He was elected to Fellowship of the Royal Society of Canada in 2002 and the Royal Society of London in 2012. Other recognitions include the Whistler Award of the International Carbohydrate Organisation (2002), the Lemieux Award of the Canadian Society for Chemistry (2011) and the Centenary Medal of the Royal Society of Chemistry (2012).
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