McMaster University
Chemical Biology & Biological Print E-mail

Research in our area is aimed at understanding the chemistry and biochemistry of certain drugs and biological processes. Much of this work, which involves preparing and characterizing compounds that might be used as drugs or diagnostics, is done in cooperation with the Departments of Biochemistry, Medicine, Nuclear Medicine and Pathology, and with the Brockhouse Institute for Materials Research (BIMR). In addition, cooperative research is carried out with other universities in Canada, the United States, France and Germany.  For more information and opportunities, check out our Graduate program in Chemical Biology.

  • html Berti, Paul J.
    (Transition-state analysis in biochemical systems; enzyme mechanisms)
  • html Brennan, John D.
    (Bioanalytical chemistry; fluorescence spectroscopy; biosensors)
  • html Britz-McKibbin, Philip
    (Bioanalytical chemistry; separation science; metabolomics; cellulomics)
  • html Capretta, Fred
    (Phospha-adamantanes in organopalladium cross-coupling reactions; carbenoid-based synthesis; synthesis of bioactive compounds)
  • html Harrison, Paul H.M.
    (Bioorganic chemistry; biosynthetic processes; biomimetics )
  • html Hitchcock, Adam P.
    (Electron impact and synchrotron spectroscopies; X-ray microscopy)
  • html Li, Yingfu
    (Creation and engineering of DNA enzymes; DNA-based biosensors)
  • html Magarvey, Nathan
    (Natural Product Biosynthesis & Drug Discovery; Microbial Metabolomics; Small Molecule/chemical signaling)
  • html McNulty, James
    (Synthesis; organophosphine chemistry; anticancer drugs; chemical biology; natural product isolations)
  • html Melacini, Giuseppe
    (Biological NMR; protein structure & dynamics; biomolecular interactions; structural genomics)
  • html Valliant, John F.
    (Medicinal inorganic and radiopharmaceutical chemistry )
  • htmlWylie, Ryan
    (Cell-Matrix Interactions; Biomaterials Research)

Biological & Medicinal Areas:

There are four general areas of research in medicinal chemistry in the Department. The first area is in the design and preparation of compounds or complexes which can deliver certain ions to a specific part of the body. Examples include facilitated transport of neurotransmitter analogues across the blood-brain barrier, potentially redressing a chemical imbalance in the brain.

Radio-imaging is another area which uses selective delivery. Sugars labelled with fluorine-18 can be taken up by the brain and used for positron emission tomography (P.E.T.). Suitable complexing agents can be designed to take transition metals to specific organs in the body where they can be used as imaging agents. This technique can be used to carry radioactive nuclei such as technetium-99m to specific organs, such as the heart, for conventional radio-imaging, as well as to transport paramagnetic ions, such as iron or the lanthanides, to an organ where they can be used as contrast agents to improve the resolution of pictures obtained in whole-body NMR imaging.

Specific sequences of DNA and RNA and various polypeptides have been prepared that mimic the drug binding sites in the body. From these studies ideas arise for new drugs, which are synthesised, characterised and submitted to biological testing to see whether they have any activity against such diseases as heart attacks, rheumatoid arthritis or cancer.

Finally, as a result of other studies on carbenium ions, there is now extensive research on the chemistry of the vision process, which involves the carbenium ions derived from retinal.