Walter A. Szarek

Queens University of Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina, United States

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Publications (326)605.92 Total impact


  • No preview · Article · Dec 2015 · Biochemistry and Cell Biology

  • No preview · Conference Paper · Dec 2015
  • Diana Czuchry · Walter A. Szarek · Inka Brockhausen

    No preview · Conference Paper · Nov 2015
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    ABSTRACT: The sialyl-T antigen sialylα2-3Galβ1-3GalNAc is a common O-glycan structure in human glycoproteins and is synthesized by sialyltransferase ST3Gal1. The enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli serotype O104 has the rare ability to synthesize a sialyl-T antigen mimic. We showed here that the wbwA gene of the E. coli O104 antigen synthesis gene cluster encodes an α2,3-sialyltransferase WbwA that transfers sialic acid from CMP-sialic acid to Galβ1-3GalNAcα-diphosphate-lipid acceptor. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) analysis of purified WbwA enzyme reaction product indicated that the sialyl-T antigen sialylα2-3Galβ1- 3GalNAcα-diphosphate-lipid was synthesized. We showed that the conserved His-Pro (HP) motif and Glu/Asp residues of two EDG motifs in WbwA are important for the activity. The characterization studies showed that WbwA from E. coli O104 is a monofunctional α2,3-sialyltransferase and is distinct from human ST3Gal1 as well as all other known sialyltransferases due to its unique acceptor specificity. This work contributes to knowledge of the biosynthesis of bacterial virulence factors.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · Journal of Bacteriology
  • Xianqi Kong · Dragic Vukomanovic · Kanji Nakatsu · Walter A Szarek
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    ABSTRACT: Devising ways to up- or down-regulate heme oxygenase activity is attracting much interest as a strategy for the treatment of a variety of disorders. With a view of obtaining compounds that exhibit high potency and selectivity as inhibitors of the heme oxygenase-2 (HO-2) isozyme (constitutive) relative to the heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) isozyme (inducible), several 1,2-disubstituted 1H-benzimidazoles were designed and synthesized. Specifically, analogues were synthesized in which the C2 substituent was the following: (1H-imidazol-1-yl)methyl, (N-morpholinyl)methyl, cyclopentylmethyl, cyclohexylmethyl, or (norborn-2-yl)methyl. Compounds with the cyclic system in the C2 substituent being a carbocyclic ring, especially cyclohexyl or norborn-2-yl, and the N1 substituent being a ring-substituted benzyl group, especially 4-chlorobenzyl or 4-bromobenzyl, best exhibited the target criteria of high potency and selectivity toward inhibition of HO-2. The new candidates should be useful pharmacological tools and may have therapeutic applications. © 2015 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2015 · ChemMedChem
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    ABSTRACT: The opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa produces two major cell surface lipopolysaccharides, characterized by distinct O antigens, called Common Polysaccharide Antigen (CPA) and O-specific antigen (OSA). CPA contains a polymer of d-rhamnose (d-Rha) in α-2 and α-3-linkages. Three putative glycosyltransferase genes, wbpX, wbpY, and wbpZ, are part of the CPA biosynthesis cluster. To characterize the enzymatic function of the wbpZ gene product, we chemically synthesized the donor substrate GDP-d-Rha and enzymatically synthesized GDP-D-[(3)H]Rha. Using NMR spectroscopy, we showed that WbpZ transferred one d-Rha residue from GDP-d-Rha in α1-3 linkage to both, GlcNAc- and GalNAc-diphosphate-lipid acceptor substrates. WbpZ is also capable of transferring d-mannose (d-Man) to these acceptors. Therefore, WbpZ has a relaxed specificity with respect to both, acceptor and donor substrates. The diphosphate group of the acceptor, however, is required for activity. WbpZ does not require divalent metal ion for activity and exhibits an unusually high pH optimum of 9. WbpZ from PAO1 is therefore a GDP-d-Rha: GlcNAc/GalNAc-diphosphate-lipid α1,3-d-rhamnosyltransferase that has significant activity of GDP-d-Man: GlcNAc/GalNAc-diphosphate-lipid α1,3-d-mannosyltransferase. We used site-directed mutagenesis to replace the Asp residues of the two DXD motifs with Ala. Neither of the mutant constructs of wbpZ (D172A or D254A) could be used to rescue CPA biosynthesis in the ΔwbpZ knockout mutant in a complementation assay. This suggested that D172 and D254 are essential for WbpZ function. This work is the first detailed characterization study of a d-Rha-transferase and a critical step in the development of CPA synthesis inhibitors. This is the first characterization of a D-rhamnosyltransferase and shows that it is essential in Pseudomonas aeruginosa for the synthesis of the Common Polysaccharide Antigen. Copyright © 2015, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2015 · Journal of bacteriology
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    ABSTRACT: Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) administration is a promising adjuvant therapy to treat tissue injury. However, MSC survival after administration is often hampered by oxidative stress at the site of injury. Heme oxygenase (HO) generates the cytoprotective effector molecules biliverdin/bilirubin, carbon monoxide (CO) and iron/ferritin by breaking down heme. Since HO-activity mediates anti-apoptotic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidative effects, we hypothesized that modulation of the HO-system affects MSC survival. Adipose-derived MSCs (ASCs) from wild type (WT) and HO-2 knockout (KO) mice were isolated and characterized with respect to ASC marker expression. In order to analyze potential modulatory effects of the HO-system on ASC survival, WT and HO-2 KO ASCs were pre-treated with HO-activity modulators, or downstream effector molecules biliverdin, bilirubin, and CO before co-exposure of ASCs to a toxic dose of H2O2. Surprisingly, sensitivity to H2O2-mediated cell death was similar in WT and HO-2 KO ASCs. However, pre-induction of HO-1 expression using curcumin increased ASC survival after H2O2 exposure in both WT and HO-2 KO ASCs. Simultaneous inhibition of HO-activity resulted in loss of curcumin-mediated protection. Co-treatment with glutathione precursor N-Acetylcysteine promoted ASC survival. However, co-incubation with HO-effector molecules bilirubin and biliverdin did not rescue from H2O2-mediated cell death, whereas co-exposure to CO-releasing molecules-2 (CORM-2) significantly increased cell survival, independently from HO-2 expression. Summarizing, our results show that curcumin protects via an HO-1 dependent mechanism against H2O2-mediated apoptosis, and likely through the generation of CO. HO-1 pre-induction or administration of CORMs may thus form an attractive strategy to improve MSC therapy.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2014 · International Journal of Molecular Sciences
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    ABSTRACT: Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) encoded by the HMOX1 gene is a 32 kDa stress protein that catabolizes heme to biliverdin, free iron and carbon monoxide. Glial HO-1 is over-expressed in the CNS of subjects with Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD) and multiple sclerosis (MS). The HMOX1 gene is exquisitely sensitive to oxidative stress and is induced in brain and other tissues in various models of disease and trauma. Induction of the glial HMOX1 gene may lead to pathological brain iron deposition, intracellular oxidative damage and bioenergetic failure in AD and other human CNS disorders such as PD and MS. Therefore, targeted suppression of glial HO-1 hyperactivity may prove to be a rational and effective therapeutic intervention in AD and related neurodegenerative disorders. In the present study, we report the effects of QC-47, QC-56 and OB-28, novel azole-based competitive and reversible inhibitors of HO-1, on oxidative damage to whole cell and mitochondrial compartments in rat astrocytes transfected with the HMOX1 gene. We also report the effect of OB-28 on the behavior and neuropathology of APPswe/PS1∆E9 mice. OB-28 was found to reduce oxidative damage to whole cell and mitochondrial compartments in rat astrocytes transfected with the HMOX1 gene. Moreover, OB-28 was found to significantly counter behavioural deficits and neuropathological alterations in APPswe/PS1∆E9 mice. Attenuation of AD-associated behavioural deficits and neuropathological changes suggests that HO-1 may be a promising target for neuro-protective intervention in AD and other neurodegenerative diseases.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2014 · Journal of Neurochemistry
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    ABSTRACT: The development of heme oxygenase (HO) inhibitors, especially those that are isozyme-selective, promises powerful pharmacological tools to elucidate the regulatory characteristics of the HO system. HO is known to have cytoprotective properties with a role in several disease states; thus, it is an enticing therapeutic target. Traditionally, given their structural similarity with heme, the metalloporphyrins have been used as competitive HO inhibitors. However, given heme’s important role in several other proteins (e.g. cytochromes P450, nitric oxide synthase), nonselectivity is an unfortunate side-effect. Reports that azalanstat and other non-porphyrin molecules inhibited HO led to a multi-faceted effort to develop novel compounds as potent, selective inhibitors of HO. This resulted in the creation of non-competitive HO-selective inhibitors, including a subset with isozyme selectivity for HO-1. Using X-ray crystallography, the structures of several complexes of HO-1 with novel inhibitors have been elucidated, providing insightful information regarding the salient features required for inhibitor binding. This included the structural basis for noncompetitive inhibition, flexibility and adaptability of the inhibitor binding pocket, and multiple, potential interaction subsites, all of which can be exploited in future drug-design strategies. The structures revealed a common binding mode, despite different structural fragments, with the flexibility to accommodate bulkier substituents via “induced fit”. Compounds bind to the distal side of heme through an azole ‘‘anchor” which coordinates with the heme iron. Expansion of the distal pocket, mainly due to distal helix flexibility, allows accommodation of the compounds, with a distal hydrophobic pocket providing further stabilization yet without displacing heme or the critical Asp140 residue. Rather, binding displaces a catalytically critical water molecule and disrupts an ordered hydrogen-bond network involving Asp140.
    No preview · Conference Paper · Aug 2014
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    ABSTRACT: Escherichia coli displays O antigens on the outer membrane that play an important role in bacterial interactions with the environment. The O antigens of enterohemorrhagic E. coli O104 and O5 contain a Galβ1-3GalNAc disaccharide at the reducing end of the repeating unit. Several other O antigens contain this disaccharide, which is identical to the mammalian O-glycan core 1 or the cancer-associated Thomsen-Friedenreich (TF) antigen. We identified the wbwC genes responsible for the synthesis of the disaccharide in E. coli serotypes O104 and O5. To functionally characterize WbwC, an acceptor substrate analog, GalNAcα-diphosphate-phenylundecyl, was synthesized. WbwC reaction products were isolated by high-pressure liquid chromatography and analyzed by mass spectrometry, nuclear magnetic resonance, galactosidase and O-glycanase digestion, and anti-TF antibody. The results clearly showed that the Galβ1-3GalNAcα linkage was synthesized, confirming WbwCECO104 and WbwCECO5 as UDP-Gal:GalNAcα-diphosphate-lipid β1,3-Gal-transferases. Sequence analysis revealed a conserved DxDD motif, and mutagenesis showed the importance of these Asp residues in catalysis. The purified enzymes require divalent cations (Mn2+) for activity and are specific for UDP-Gal and GalNAc-diphosphate lipid substrates. WbwC was inhibited by bis-imidazolium salts having aliphatic chains of 18 to 22 carbons. This work will help to elucidate mechanisms of polysaccharide synthesis in pathogenic bacteria and provide technology for vaccine synthesis.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2014 · Journal of Bacteriology
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    ABSTRACT: Previously, we reported that menadione activated rat, native heme oxygenase-2 (HO-2) and human recombinant heme oxygenase-2 selectively; it did not activate spleen, microsomal heme oxygenase-1. The purpose of this study was to explore some structure-activity relationships of this activation and the idea that redox properties may be an important aspect of menadione efficacy. Heme oxygenase activity was determined in vitro using rat spleen and brain microsomes as the sources of heme oxygenase-1 and -2, respectively, as well as recombinant, human heme oxygenase-2. Menadione analogs with bulky aliphatic groups at position-3, namely vitamins K1 and K2, were not able to activate HO-2. In contrast, several compounds with similar bulky but less lipophilic moieties at position-2 (and -3) were able to activate HO-2 many fold; these compounds included polar, rigid, furan-containing naphthoquinones, furan-benzoxazine naphthoquinones, 2-(aminophenylphenyl)-3-piperidin-1-yl naphthoquinones. To explore the idea that redox properties might be involved in menadione efficacy, we tested analogs such as 1,4-dimethoxy-2-methylnaphthalene, pentafluoromenadione, monohalogenated naphthoquinones, alpha-tetralone and 1,4-naphthoquinone. All of these compounds were inactive except for 1,4-naphthoquinone. Menadione activated full-length recombinant human heme oxygenase-2 (FL-hHO-2) as effectively as rat brain enzyme, but it did not activate rat spleen heme oxygenase. These observations are consistent with the idea that naphthoquinones such as menadione bind to a receptor in HO-2 and activate the enzyme through a mechanism that may involve redox properties.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2014
  • Gheorghe Roman · Ian E Crandall · Walter A Szarek
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    ABSTRACT: A series of compounds structurally related to astemizole were designed and synthesized with the goal of determining their anti-Plasmodium activity. Several modifications of the astemizole structure, namely the removal of the 4-fluorobenzyl and/or 4-methoxyphenethyl moieties, substitution of the benzene ring of the benzimidazole scaffold, replacement of the fluorine atom in the 4-fluorobenzyl group, and variation of the 4-aminopiperidine moiety, were explored. In vitro evaluation of the anti-Plasmodium activity of these compounds using the ItG strain showed that astemizole and some of its structurally similar derivatives have IC50 values in the nanomolar range and exhibit toxicity towards the parasite over Chinese ovarian hamster (CHO) cells with a selectivity as high as 200. The presence of a secondary cyclic amine at position 2 and substitution with chlorine at positions 4 and 5 in the benzimidazole moiety are two modifications that resulted in potent and selective antimalarials based on astemizole.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2013 · ChemMedChem
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    ABSTRACT: Several analogs based on the lead structure of 1-(4-chlorobenzyl)-2-(pyrrolidin-1-ylmethyl)-1H-benzimidazole (clemizole) were synthesized and evaluated as novel inhibitors of heme oxygenase (HO). Many of the compounds were found to be potent and highly selective for the HO-2 isozyme (constitutive), and had substantially less inhibitory activity on the HO-1 isozyme (inducible). The compounds represent the first report of highly potent and selective inhibitors of HO-2 activity, and complement our suite of selective HO-1 inhibitors. The study has revealed many candidates based on the inhibition of heme oxygenases for potentially useful pharmacological and therapeutic applications.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2013 · Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Modifications of proteins by O-glycosylation determine many of the properties and functions of proteins. We wish to understand the mechanisms of O-glycosylation and develop inhibitors that could affect glycoprotein functions and alter cellular behavior. METHODS: We expressed recombinant soluble human Gal- and GlcNAc-transferases that synthesize the O-glycan cores 1 to 4 and are critical for the overall structures of O-glycans. We determined the properties and substrate specificities of these enzymes using synthetic acceptor substrate analogs. Compounds that were inactive as substrates were tested as inhibitors. RESULTS: Enzymes significantly differed in their recognition of the sugar moieties and aglycone groups of substrates. Core 1 synthase was active with glycopeptide substrates but GlcNAc-transferases preferred substrates with hydrophobic aglycone groups. Chemical modifications of the acceptors shed light on enzyme - substrate interactions. Core 1 synthase was weakly inhibited by its substrate analog benzyl 2-butanamido-2-deoxy-α-D-galactoside while two of the three GlcNAc-transferases were selectively and potently inhibited by bis-imidazolium salts which are not substrate analogs. CONCLUSIONS: This work delineates the distinct specificities and properties of the enzymes that synthesize the common O-glycan core structures 1 to 4. New inhibitors were found that could selectively inhibit the synthesis of core 1, 2 and 3 but not core 4. General significance These studies help our understanding of the mechanisms of action of enzymes critical for O-glycosylation. The results may be useful for the re-engineering of O-glycosylation to determine the roles of O-glycans and the enzymes critical for O-glycosylation, and for biotechnology with potential therapeutic applications.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2013 · Biochimica et Biophysica Acta
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    Yin Gao · Jason Z. Vlahakis · Walter A. Szarek · Inka Brockhausen
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    ABSTRACT: Galactosyltransferases (GalTs) extend the glycan chains of mammalian glycoproteins by adding Gal to terminal GlcNAc residues, and thus build the scaffolds for biologically important glycan structures. We have shown that positively charged bivalent imidazolium salts in which the two imidazolium groups are linked by an aliphatic chain of 20 or 22 carbons form potent inhibitors of purified human β3-GalT5, using GlcNAcβ-benzyl as acceptor substrate. The inhibitors are not substrate analogs and also inhibited a selected number of other glycosyltransferases. These bis-imidazolium compounds represent a new class of glycosyltransferase inhibitors with potential as anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory drugs.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2013 · Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry
  • Gheorghe Roman · Ian E. Crandall · Walter A. Szarek
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    ABSTRACT: AbstractA series of compounds structurally related to astemizole were designed and synthesized with the goal of determining their anti‐Plasmodium activity. Several modifications of the astemizole structure, namely the removal of the 4‐fluorobenzyl and/or 4‐methoxyphenethyl moieties, substitution of the benzene ring of the benzimidazole scaffold, replacement of the fluorine atom in the 4‐fluorobenzyl group, and variation of the 4‐aminopiperidine moiety, were explored. In vitro evaluation of the anti‐Plasmodium activity of these compounds using the ItG strain showed that astemizole and some of its structurally similar derivatives have IC50 values in the nanomolar range and exhibit toxicity towards the parasite over Chinese ovarian hamster (CHO) cells with a selectivity as high as 200. The presence of a secondary cyclic amine at position 2 and substitution with chlorine at positions 4 and 5 in the benzimidazole moiety are two modifications that resulted in potent and selective antimalarials based on astemizole.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2013 · ChemMedChem
  • Ian E Crandall · Bohang Zhao · Jason Z Vlahakis · Walter A Szarek
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    ABSTRACT: The interaction between DNA and members of series of bivalent imidazole compounds, monovalent and bivalent imidazolium compounds, and monovalent and bivalent tetrazolium compounds, which had been synthesized and evaluated for their anti-Plasmodium activity, has been examined using the displacement of SYBR Green I as a measure of competitive binding. The degree of interaction with DNA appears to be dependent on both hydrophobic and charge-pairing interactions. (c) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2012 · Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters
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    ABSTRACT: The development of heme oxygenase (HO) inhibitors, especially those that are isozyme-selective, promises powerful pharmacological tools to elucidate the regulatory characteristics of the HO system. It is already known that HO has cytoprotective properties and may play a role in several disease states, making it an enticing therapeutic target. Traditionally, the metalloporphyrins have been used as competitive HO inhibitors owing to their structural similarity with the substrate, heme. However, given heme's important role in several other proteins (e.g. cytochromes P450, nitric oxide synthase), non-selectivity is an unfortunate side-effect. Reports that azalanstat and other non-porphyrin molecules inhibited HO led to a multi-faceted effort to develop novel compounds as potent, selective inhibitors of HO. This resulted in the creation of non-competitive inhibitors with selectivity for HO, including a subset with isozyme selectivity for HO-1. Using X-ray crystallography, the structures of several complexes of HO-1 with novel inhibitors have been elucidated, which provided insightful information regarding the salient features required for inhibitor binding. This included the structural basis for non-competitive inhibition, flexibility and adaptability of the inhibitor binding pocket, and multiple, potential interaction subsites, all of which can be exploited in future drug-design strategies.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2012 · Journal of The Royal Society Interface
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    ABSTRACT: The enterohemorrhagic O157 strain of Escherichia coli, which is one of the most well-known bacterial pathogens, has an O-antigen repeating unit structure with the sequence [-2-d-Rha4NAcα1-3-l-Fucα1-4-d-Glcβ1-3-d-GalNAcα1-]. The O-antigen gene cluster of E. coli O157 contains the genes responsible for the assembly of this repeating unit and includes wbdN. In spite of cloning many O-antigen genes, biochemical characterization has been done on very few enzymes involved in O-antigen synthesis. In this work, we expressed the wbdN gene in E. coli BL21, and the His-tagged protein was purified. WbdN activity was characterized using the donor substrate UDP-[(14)C]Glc and the synthetic acceptor substrate GalNAcα-O-PO(3)-PO(3)-(CH(2))(11)-O-Ph. The enzyme product was isolated by high pressure liquid chromatography, and mass spectrometry showed that one Glc residue was transferred to the acceptor by WbdN. Nuclear magnetic resonance analysis of the product structure indicated that Glc was β1-3 linked to GalNAc. WbdN contains a conserved DxD motif and requires divalent metal ions for full activity. WbdN activity has an optimal pH between 7 and 8 and is highly specific for UDP-Glc as the donor substrate. GalNAcα derivatives lacking the diphosphate group were inactive as substrates, and the enzyme did not transfer Glc to GlcNAcα-O-PO(3)-PO(3)-(CH(2))(11)-O-Ph. Our results illustrate that WbdN is a specific UDP-Glc:GalNAcα-diphosphate-lipid β1,3-Glc-transferase. The enzyme is a target for the development of inhibitors to block O157-antigen synthesis.
    No preview · Article · May 2012 · Glycobiology
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    ABSTRACT: Several α-(1H-imidazol-1-yl)-ω-phenylalkanes were synthesized and evaluated as novel inhibitors of heme oxygenase (HO). These compounds were found to be potent and selective for the stress-induced isozyme HO-1, showing mostly weak activity toward the constitutive isozyme HO-2. The introduction of an oxygen atom in the alkyl linker produced analogues with decreased potency toward HO-1, whereas the presence of a sulfur atom in the linker gave rise to analogues with greater potency toward HO-1 than the carbon-containing analogues. The most potent compounds studied contained a five-atom linker between the imidazolyl and phenyl moieties, whereas the most HO-1-selective compounds contained a four-atom linker between these groups. The compounds with a five-atom linker containing a heteroatom (O or S) were found to be the most potent inhibitors of HO-2; 1-(N-benzylamino)-3-(1H-imidazol-1-yl)propane dihydrochloride, with a nitrogen atom in the linker, was found to be inactive.
    No preview · Article · May 2012 · ChemMedChem

Publication Stats

4k Citations
605.92 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1982-2015
    • Queens University of Charlotte
      • Chemistry
      Charlotte, North Carolina, United States
    • Hotel Dieu Hospital
      Kingston, Ontario, Canada
  • 1964-2015
    • Queen's University
      • • Department of Chemistry
      • • Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences
      • • Department of Medicine
      Kingston, Ontario, Canada
  • 2011
    • Queen's University Belfast
      Béal Feirste, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
    • McMaster University
      Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
    • Kingston University
      Kingston, England, United Kingdom
    • Dalhousie University
      • Department of Chemistry
      Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • 2010
    • University of Warsaw
      Warszawa, Masovian Voivodeship, Poland
  • 2009
    • McGill University
      Montréal, Quebec, Canada
  • 2002
    • Kingston General Hospital
      Kingston, Ontario, Canada
  • 1965
    • The Ohio State University
      Columbus, Ohio, United States