S. Withers

SteveMy research interests have always focused around the fascinating question of how enzymes function as such formidable catalysts. Enzymes involved in glycosyl transfer have served as useful model systems for developing this understanding, especially since they are amongst nature’s most proficient catalysts, accelerating reactions by some 1017 fold.

To address these questions we have combined our ability to synthesise substrates and inhibitors with classical enzymology and molecular biology such that we can alter the structures of both the substrate and the catalyst and then measure the consequence of the modifications on reaction rates. Collaborations with structural biologists have allowed us to then visualise the enzyme in action. The role of non-covalent interactions between the enzyme and substrate in stabilisation of ground and transition states has held a particular fascination for me, as well as the development of methodologies to stabilise or trap intermediates in catalysis. Increasingly I am becoming interested in applying our understanding to the development of new tools and hopefully therapeutics. These thoughts are laid out in the Research Program section.

In my non-work hours, I like to kayak on the ocean and local rivers. Particularly close to my heart is to paddle around the Gulf Islands just west of Vancouver, starting from my cabin on Mayne Island. When my knees permit I still enjoy running through the UBC woods, though days of competing are long past!


Curriculum Vitae:

2008-Present Canada Research Chair in Chemical Biology
2008-2013 Director, UBC Centre for High-Throughput Biology (CHiBi)
2000-2005 Scientific Director of the Protein Engineering Network of Centres of Excellence (PENCE)
2004 Jacob Biely Faculty Research Prize, UBC
2002 Whistler Award, International Carbohydrate Organisation
2001 Charmian Medal of the Royal Society of Chemistry, U.K.
1998 Hoffman LaRoche Award of the Canadian Society for Chemistry
1997 Khorana Chair of Biological Chemistry, UBC
1992 Rutherford Medal, Royal Society of Canada
1990 Corday Morgan Medal of the Royal Society of Chemistry
1989 Merck, Sharpe and Dohme Award of the CIC
1989 Fellow of the Chemical Institute of Canada
1982 Appointed to UBC
1978-1982 Postdoctoral, Alberta (N.B. Madsen and B.D. Sykes)
1977 Ph.D., Bristol (M.L. Sinnott)
1974 B. Sc., Bristol

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