Trainee at GlycoNet: Omozojie Paul Aigbogun

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

I am currently a Ph.D student in the labs of Dr. Ed S. Krol and Dr. Chris P. Phenix at the University of Saskatchewan. I also work at the Sylvia Fedoruk Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation where I carry out radiolabeling experiments.

Tell me about the project you’re working on.

Misfolding/aggregation of alpha-synuclein (AS) is a pathological hallmark in Parkinson’s Disease (PD). We have developed new compounds that can inhibit the aggregation of AS. I am working on the design and synthesis of novel bifunctional compounds as PET imaging probes for Parkinson’s Disease. My research involves synthesis of F-19/F-18 labelled compounds to evaluate both their phase 1 metabolism and biodistribution profile. We are currently using hepatic microsomes for metabolism studies and LC/Tandem Mass spectrometry for analysis of metabolites. 

Other than glycomics, what areas of research do you think is important in advancing healthcare?

Cell communications and signalling, cell energy and the biochemical mechanisms in cell biology are major factors in cancer, neurodegenerative and many other diseases. Any research that involves understanding the fundamentals of cell biology is important in advancing healthcare.  

Tell me an “Eureka!” moment in the lab.

I found out in May 2019 that for one of the final steps involving the synthesis of our Fluorine-labelled compounds, when we switch from tosylate to a different leaving group our yield bumps up significantly. It also gave us new insights to possible conformation of these compounds.

What do you do when you are not in the lab?

When I am not in the lab, I do some reading, cooking and spend some time catching up with family and friends. I have also spent some time out of the lab blogging in the past.

How do you fight procrastination and stress?

To fight procrastination, I usually put away anything that might be distracting to me, go for a walk to do some thinking, play some music and get back to work. To fight stress, I spend time talking with family and friends (strong support system), and go for a walk.

If you had to choose a completely different career path, what would it be?

I would probably be a motivational speaker! I did some speaking engagements during my undergrad program and before starting grad school.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

One of the most enjoyable and least stressful parts of my job involves teaching the undergraduate labs and training new graduate/summer students. I see myself in a position that is a blend of teaching medicinal chemistry and carrying out drug discovery research. 

About Paul

Aigbogun, Omozojie Paul is originally from Nigeria and moved to Canada in spring of 2017 to begin graduate school. He is currently a Ph.D candidate in chemistry at the University of Saskatchewan with research interest in drug design, drug metabolism and development of new radiopharmaceuticals. Omozojie is passionate about teaching chemistry and helping the undergraduate students. He is motivated to inspire others with his journey so far.

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