David Vocadlo

Distinguished Professor
Molecular Biology and Biochemistry

Areas of interest

Organisms from all kingdoms of life use an array of specialized carbohydrate units to form glycans that modify proteins and other macromolecules. The presence of these glycans alters the biophysical properties of the resulting glycoconjugates and directs their cellular functions. Glycans are therefore emerging as central players that regulate diverse physiological processes within cells and organisms, ranging from inflammation through to development and ageing. Our interdisciplinary Laboratory of Chemical Glycobiology works at this frontier area of molecular biology. Members of the laboratory collaborate to address new problems in the area of glycobiology and come from various disciplinary backgrounds including, for example, biochemistry, chemistry, and cell biology. Working together, we develop and use new molecular imaging agents, inhibitors, and substrates to uncover the roles of glycoconjugates in cell and organismal physiology.

Specific current interests include the molecular basis by which O-GlcNAc contributes to the regulation of protein stability and gene expression as well as uncovering the protective role of this modification in neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer, Frontotemporal Dementia, and Peripheral Supranuclear Palsy. We have developed more recent interest in the functions of the glycoside hydrolase glucocerebrosidase, which has emerged recently as the greatest genetic risk factor for Parkinson Disease. Our research is both of fundamental interest, with a focus on improving our basic understanding of the roles of glycoconjugates in cell function, as well as having translational significance, with technology from our laboratory having driven compounds into the clinic.


  • Ph.D., Bioogranic Chemistry, University of British Columbia
  • CIHR Postdoctoral Fellow - University of California, Berkeley

Selected Publications


Future courses may be subject to change.