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Global health threat

Upcoming lecture to focus on antibiotic resistance

Teaching and Learning

By Kelly Foss

An upcoming guest lecture will discuss the global health threat of antibiotic resistance.

Dr. Albert Berghuis is a Distinguished James McGill Professor in the Departments of Biochemistry and Microbiology and Immunology at McGill University.

He is also the chair of the Department of Biochemistry and the associate director of the McGill Antimicrobial Resistance Centre. He will give Memorial’s 2022 Brosnan Lecture in Biochemistry on Wednesday, Nov. 23.

“Over one million deaths annually are directly attributable to resistant bacteria.” — Dr. Albert Berghuis

The lecture is being hosted by the Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science.

Multi-pronged approach

“The dangers antibiotic resistance poses to human health needs little introduction,” said Dr. Berghuis. “Statistics, such as that already over one million deaths annually are directly attributable to resistant bacteria, have been well publicized. The World Health Organization has advocated a multi-pronged approach to address this global health threat, which includes developing new medicines.”

Dr. Berghuis’s lab uses structural biological approaches to examine various mechanisms of antibiotic resistance, with the objective of informing the development of new therapeutic options for treating bacterial infections.

“Notably, we have examined enzyme-mediated resistance to aminoglycoside and macrolide antibiotics. Our findings have underscored the difficulties of drug development in the contexts of widespread multi-drug resistance, but have also revealed viable avenues to combat resistance.”

Next-generation antibiotics

His research focuses on exploiting various complementary biophysical techniques, such as x-ray diffraction/scattering and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, to examine protein-drug interactions in atomic detail.

One of the research directions Dr. Berghuis pursues is the structural elucidation of bacterial proteins that provide protection to antibiotics, thus conferring antimicrobial resistance. These studies have informed the development of next-generation antibiotics that are less susceptible to resistance, and the design of adjuvants that enhance the effectiveness of antibiotic therapies.

In addition to his academic research and administrative duties, Dr. Berghuis has served on the editorial boards of several journals, consulted for the biotech and pharmaceutical industry and participated in and chaired expert panels advising granting agencies.

He has been a member of various advisory boards, including the Users’ Advisory Committee for the Canadian Light Source and the Senior Science Advisory Committee for the Canadian Space Agency.

Brosnan Lecture in Biochemistry

The Brosnan Lecture in Biochemistry was established through a generous gift from Dr. Sean Brosnan.

An accomplished educator and one of Memorial’s premier scientists and researchers, his gift enables the Department of Biochemistry to invite an eminent biochemist to deliver one or more lectures on biochemical research or on the history of biochemistry on an annual basis.

The lecture, titled Antibiotic Resistance Up Close: A Structural Biologist View on a Global Health Threat, takes place Wednesday, Nov. 23, at 1 p.m. in room CSF-1302, Core Science Facility.

All are welcome.

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