Chemistry Seminar Series

Wed, 23 Jan 2019

Dr. Ratmir Derda

University of Alberta

Genetically-Encoded Technologies in Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Wednesday, January 23, 2019
WMC 3210 @ 3:30 p.m.

Host: Dr. David Vocadlo


Genetically-encoded (GE) molecular libraries, such as Nobel prize-winning phage display technology, are poised to become the major source of discovery of biological drugs and development of ligands. Many of these techniques are limited to handling canonical polypeptide topologies often restricted to 20 natural amino acids. In this talk, I will describe new developments from our group that expands the use of GE-technologies to Organic Chemistry and Chemical Biology. (1) Drug discovery necessitates new chemical scaffolds that do not break down in aggressive proteolytic environment encountered in serum or GI-tract. Using GE-libraries of peptides as a starting material for multi-step organic synthesis, we produce GE-libraries of novel bicyclic architectures that exhibit remarkable stability to proteolytic degradation. (2) We show that libraries of phage-displayed peptides can tackle fundamental physical-organic questions such as substrate control of Wittig reactions. (3) I will also introduce a simple approach to generation of GE-libraries of any chemicals not derived from peptides. As example, we constructed genetically encoded “liquid glycan arrays (LiGA)”. LiGA is a reagent that can be combined with proteins, cells or tissues, inorganic materials, such as ice and safely injected into animals. Simple DNA sequencing then uncovers glycan-binding preferences of said proteins, cells, tissues, materials (ice) or various immune cells and organs in live animals.    


Ratmir Derda received his undergraduate degree in Physics from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology in 2001, Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2008, under the supervision of Laura Kiessling, and postdoctoral training at Harvard University under the supervision of George Whitesides and Donald Ingber. He joined University of Alberta in 2011 as an Assistant Professor in Chemistry and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2017. In 2017 he founded 48HourDiscovery INC to translate genetically-encoded libraries and other technologies developed in Derda Group. His notable awards include Melanie O'Neill Young Investigator Award in Biological Chemistry (2018), David Gin New Investigator Award in carbohydrate chemistry from American Chemical Society (2017), Rising Star in Chemical Biology from the International Chemical Biology Society (2016); Young Investigator Award from the Boulder Peptide Society (2014); Gold Medal at the XXIX International Chemistry Olympiad (1997).