Trainee at GlycoNet: Ryan Simard

Ryan Simmard

Ryan Simard is a PhD student in chemistry at the University of Montreal.

Where do you work, what is your position, and who is your supervisor?

I am currently completing my third year as a graduate student in the chemistry program at the University of Montreal. My research project is carried out under the supervision of Prof. Yvan Guindon at the Montreal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM).

Which project do you work on?

A key aspect of my research is the development and synthesis of novel glycomimetics of sialyl LewisX, the carbohydrate epitope responsible for binding to the selectins. By modifying the key pharmacophores of the core structure with higher affinity motifs we hope to mimic the bioactive conformation of sialyl LewisX and inhibit its native binding to the selectins. These selectin antagonists may lead to effective therapeutic treatments for inflammatory diseases such as psoriasis, vascular injury, and vaso-occlusive crisis.

If you have received a GlycoNet funded award, which one was it and what was your experience?

At last year’s symposium I had the opportunity to present some of my early synthetic work at the poster session. The session itself was very interesting due to the large participation of trainees presenting their hard work. I was ecstatic to win one of the poster presentation awards.

If you have previously attended the AGM/Symposium, what was your experience?

Overall, I have really enjoyed my experiences at the both the AGM and the symposium. Seeing the progress of other Glyconet researchers really puts into perspective the diversity of projects in the field of glycomics. Not to mention Banff is an amazing location to host the symposium.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

Montreal is an excellent hub for synthetic chemists. I hope to combine the total synthetic skills and practical knowledge in glycochemistry that I’ve acquired in the lab to pursue my goals of becoming a research chemist in an industrial setting.

What does glycomics mean to you?

Glycans play such a crucial role in a wide variety of day to day biological processes, and we are only just beginning to scratch the surface on understanding their full potential. The more we uncover about the glycome through glycomics, the more tools we have at our disposal to identify and treat some of the pathologies of disease that arise from its malfunction. From my perspective working with glycomimetics, trying to understand the complexity of carbohydrate interactions by mimicking their “bioactive” conformations presents but one of many ways to determine their biological function and importance as therapeutic targets.

What is your favourite quote?

Where there is much desire to learn, there of necessity will be much arguing, much writing, many opinions; for opinion in good men is but knowledge in the making.” – John Milton. I feel this speaks directly at what goes on in an academic research setting, especially when it comes time to put everything down on paper and write (or rewrite) the manuscript.

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