Dr. John Klassen, an award-winning researcher in the fields of mass spectrometry and analytical chemistry, has been named the new Scientific Director of the Alberta Glycomics Centre, succeeding Dr. Todd Lowary.
Dr. Klassen is a Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Alberta, and has been an integral part of the Alberta Glycomics Centre since joining as a Principal Investigator in 2004. He expressed excitement at taking on the new role, but expects changes in the future, particularly with the creation of the Canadian Glycomics Network (GlycoNet). He expects commercialization to be a core focus for the Centre moving forward.
“One way to diversify the economy is through initiatives like the Alberta Glycomics Centre,” he said. “The Centre is delivering on what it promised. For Alberta, this is something that one can point to as a successful investment, because we’ve produced spinoff companies and revenue is flowing back.”
“I think it’s in our interest to make sure that the research projects we pursue are likely to have commercialization outcomes,” he added.
Dr. Klassen also plans to focus on the development of core services such as carbohydrate synthesis, library screening and glycan structure analysis.
“There is no national glycomics facility, and I think there will be tremendous demand for the services we offer,” he said. “I think that’s absolutely something we should focus on and I think it will be recognized as a valuable contribution.”
Dr. Todd Lowary, outgoing Scientific Director of the AGC and Scientific Director for GlycoNet, says Dr. Klassen’s expertise makes him an excellent fit to lead the Centre.
“John has been a key member of the Centre for more than 10 years and is a world-leading mass spectrometrist. He’s familiar with how the Centre operates, and so I believe it is in excellent hands moving forward into this new phase of leadership. I’m very optimistic for its future,” he said.
Dr. Klassen’s research focuses on the development and application of mass spectrometry methods to characterize non-covalent protein complexes, with an emphasis on protein-carbohydrate interactions.
He is this year’s recipient of the Ron Hites Award from the Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry. In 2012, he was a co-recipient of NSERC’s Brockhouse Canada Prize for Interdisciplinary Research in Science and Engineering. Previously, he was awarded the F. P. Lossing Award for distinguished contributions to mass spectrometry in Canada in 2011, a Petro-Canada Young Innovator Award in 2004, and an American Society for Mass Spectrometry Research Award in 2000.