We synthesize glycans and study their biological functions for a living. Specifically, we construct chemically defined glycans as research probes to study glycan related communication processes in the context of pathogen biology. We are interested in understanding how toxins and pathogens recognize specific glycans (in the form of glycolipids and glycoproteins) to bind and infect cells. For example, botulinum toxins bind to neuronal cells with high specificity. Different strains differ in their binding and their potency. By developing a library of synthetic glycoconjugates and testing them with various strains in vitro and in the context of living cells, we expect to understand the factors that govern the recognition process and correlate in vitro binding to in vivo biological function. Knowledge gained from this research endeavor is expected to lead to the development of diagnostics and therapeutics for toxins, viruses and bacteria.

The nature of this work is highly collaborative and interdisciplinary. Students in our group receive training in a number of areas that include organic synthesis, bioconjugation chemistry, pathogen biology and biophysical techniques (such as surface plasmon resonance spectroscopy, isothermal calorimetry).


Our group out for a delicious lunch


Dr. Iyer with our collaborator Dr. Alison Weiss


Iyer Research Group