Takeaways from the 7th Canadian Glycomics Symposium & 10th Warren Workshop

Posted: July 2, 2024

The 2024 Canadian Glycomics Symposium & Warren Workshop brought together over 140 leading researchers, industry experts, and participants worldwide to explore cutting-edge advancements in the field of glycomics.

Canadian Glycomics Symposium 2024 group photo

The 2024 Canadian Glycomics Symposium & Warren Workshop brought together over 140 leading researchers, industry experts, and participants worldwide to explore cutting-edge advancements in the field of glycomics. Held as a joint event in Edmonton, Alberta, on May 27-29, the symposium and workshop featured engaging presentations, posters, and discussions highlighting the importance of sugars (glycans) through the latest research and technological breakthroughs.

The three-day event included 14 keynotes and panelists, 21 selected talks, 10 lightning talks, and 50 poster presentations—with representation from Sweden, Japan, Portugal, United Kingdom, France, United States, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, and across Canada. Sessions featured collaborative and translational glycomics research as well as sessions on state-of-the-art research, technology, and processes shaping the progress of glycomics.

2024 poster award winners
Congratulations to the three poster award winners!

(left to right) Dr. Hirak Saxena (3rd place), Lucia Di Vagno (2nd place), and Sophia Mair (1st place)

Analytical and technological advancements

Analytical and technological developments in glycomics are crucial for deepening our understanding of glycan structures and their biological functions. Innovations such as high-throughput glycan analysis, advanced mass spectrometry, and molecular dynamics simulations enable researchers to analyze complex glycan structures with greater precision and speed. These technologies facilitate the identification of glycan biomarkers for disease, the design of targeted therapies, and the creation of next-generation biotechnological applications.

The symposium opened with a keynote presentation by Dr. Elisa Fadda (University of Southampton), who introduced GlycoShape—an unique platform that leverages high-performance computing to predict how sugars are added to proteins, helping address gaps in current protein structure databases.

As artificial intelligence continues to improve, it opens new doors in research. Dr. Daniel Bojar (University of Gothenburg) gave an interesting presentation discussing the latest developments in using machine learning and bioinformatics to automate and enhance glycan data analysis. Leveraging the use of AI and data science, we can reveal new insights into human physiology and disease.

An engaging panel discussion also took place with Dr. Frédérique Lisacek (Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics), Dr. Akul Mehta (Harvard Medical School), and Dr. Yan Liu (Imperial College London). The panelists discussed how standardized sharing of data from tools such as glycan microarrays and other technologies can empower the future of AI in predicting the strength of protein:glycan interactions.

These presentations showcased just a few of the latest technological advances that are helping grow our knowledge of glycomics and enabling new discoveries.

Fostering collaboration and networking

Networking and collaboration are vital in glycomics as they bring together diverse expertise from various scientific disciplines, facilitate resource sharing, and accelerate discoveries by pooling intellectual resources. Networking opportunities like the symposium also support the training and career development of young scientists, fostering the next generation of talent.

“It’s exciting to see so many researchers and industry leaders gathered together and we are fortunate to also host the Warren Workshop alongside the Canadian Glycomics Symposium this year,” said Dr. Elizabeth Nanak, CEO, GlycoNet. “Networking and knowledge-sharing are essential parts of GlycoNet’s mission to spark new connections and support innovation in glycomics. Sharing ideas and insights helps drive advancements in biotechnology and One Health.”

During the symposium, Dr. Paula Videira, on behalf of NOVA School of Science and Technology (NOVA FCT) and GLYCOTwinning, signed an MOU to collaborate with GlycoNet. Both GlycoNet and NOVA FCT bring together world-leading experts in glycomics and glycoscience to provide diverse innovation ecosystems that support translational research with state-of-the-art tools and resources.

group at MOU signing

Sharing glycomics-based health solutions

Glycomics is driving significant discoveries in health by enhancing our understanding of disease mechanisms and enabling the creation of innovative treatments. For instance, Dr. Anne Imberty (Université Grenoble Alpes) presented on how bacteria use certain proteins called lectins to help them stick to cells—while this sounds like a bad thing, bacterial lectins can be quite useful for identifying, purifying, and labelling sugars. They can even potentially be used as “glue” in the creation of artificial tissue!

Thank you for making the event a success!

The 2024 Canadian Glycomics Symposium and Warren Workshop provided a wonderful space to showcase the remarkable breakthroughs made in glycomics and to network and exchange ideas. Thank you to everyone who attended and our sponsors who supported this great event! Stay tuned for information on the 2025 Canadian Glycomics Symposium and we also look forward to hosting Glyco27 in Edmonton next year.

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