Dr. Lara Mahal

Canada Excellence Research Chair in Glycomics

Lara K. Mahal is an expert in glycomics and systems-based approaches to understanding glycan regulation and function. She developed lectin microarray technology, a high-throughput method for glycomics that is now widely applied to understand a multitude of systems, from clinical cancer research to host-pathogen interactions. Lara is also known for her groundbreaking work on microRNA regulation of glycosylation.

Experience

As an undergraduate, Professor Mahal studied with Professor Rebecca Braslau, working in the area of pro-chiral carbon radical chemistry. She was a University of California Regents Scholar, and graduated with Highest Honors and a B.A in Chemistry from the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) in 1995.

She obtained her Ph.D. in Chemistry with Professor Carolyn Bertozzi at the University of California, Berkeley in 2000. Her work with Professor Bertozzi established the area of metabolic labeling using bio-orthogonal handles, demonstrating that ketones could be incorporated into cell surface sugars, e.g., sialic acids, through metabolic pathways. She was awarded an American Chemical Society (ACS) Predoctoral Medicinal Chemistry Fellowship for this work.

She then moved to New York City where she was a Jane Coffin Childs Postdoctoral Fellow with Professor James Rothman at Sloan-Kettering Institute (2000-2003) studying the role of synaptotagmin I in calcium-dependent membrane fusion.

In 2003, she started her first independent position as an Assistant Professor in Chemistry at the University of Texas at Austin. Post-tenure in 2009, Professor Mahal moved to NYU, where she helped found the Biomedical Chemistry Institute. In 2016, she was promoted to Full Professor.

As of Fall 2019, she joins the faculty of the University of Alberta as the Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Glycomics.

Awards

Goldstein Lectureship in Glycobiology (2021)
Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation Fellowship (2004)
NSF Career Award (2007)
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship (2008)
National Institutes of Health Director’s New Innovator Award (2008)
Horace Isbell Award for Carbohydrate Chemistry from the American Chemical Society (2017)

Lab Members

Tigist Batu

PhD Student
Tigist is originally from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She graduated from Addis Ababa University (AAU) in Applied Chemistry (BSc) and received her Master’s degree (MSc) in Medical Biochemistry from the same university. Out of passion for one of the most exciting frontiers of cutting-edge science and technology, Tigist joined Dr. Mahal's perceptive & vibrant research group at the U of A in 2020 to make her long-lived dream in the field come true. Her current research focuses on studying the role of glycans in immunity and the identification of enzymes involved in glycan binding to lectins via CRISPER/cas9 Editing.
Thu Chu

Thu Chu

PhD Student
Thu Chu joined the Mahal Lab as a PhD candidate in 2015. She earned a Bachelor of Chemistry with honors from Vietnam National University. She is currently working on miRNA regulation. In her spare time, she likes to hike, read, and explore new hobbies such as origami, embroidery, and cross-stitch to keep herself staying curious.

Helia Dehghan Harati

PhD Student
Helia is a PhD student who joined the Mahal Lab in September 2019. She received her Bachelor of Science in Applied Chemistry from Khajeh Nasir University of Technology, Tehran, Iran. She also received a Master of Science in Phytochemistry (semisynthesis of natural products) from Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran. She is currently working on the regulation of O-glycans.

Faezeh Jame-Chenarboo

PhD Student
A native of Iran, Faezeh Jame-Chenarboo received a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from the Alzahra University of Tehran and a Master’s degree in Chemistry from the Medicinal Plants and Drugs Research Institute at Shahid Beheshti University. She joined the Mahal Lab in September 2019 and is currently working on the regulation of sialylation. In addition to being passionate about science, Faezeh likes playing music and reading.

Asad Khan

Postdoctoral Fellow
Asad received his MS degree in Computer Science from COMSATS University Islamabad in 2017, and obtained his first-class honour degree in Computer Science (with distinction) from Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan, Pakistan in 2014. He worked as a PhD research fellow in the Department of Computer Science at the National University of Computer & Emerging Sciences in Peshawar, Pakistan before joining the Mahal Lab. His research interests include machine learning as applied to bioinformatics.

Xuan-Lan Mai

Postdoctoral Fellow
Xuan has been a joint postdoctoral fellow with the Klassen Lab and Mahal Lab since May 2022. She obtained her BSc degree in Pharmacy from the University of Medicine & Pharmacy HCMC in Vietnam in 2015, and completed her PhD in Pharmacy at the Kangwon National University in South Korea in 2020.

Dimitra Lamprinaki

Postdoctoral Fellow
Dimitra is a postdoctoral fellow who joined the Mahal Lab in June 2021. She completed her BSc degree in Chemistry at the University of Crete, Greece, and also completed a MSc degree in Nutrition, Public Health and Policies at the Agricultural University of Athens, Greece. She received her PhD from the Quadram Institute Bioscience in Norwich in the UK under the supervision of Professor Nathalie Juge. For her PhD thesis, she investigated the mechanisms by which colorectal cancer-associated bacteria modulate innate immune response, focusing on the bacterial cell surface-derived glycoconjugates and mammalian lectin interactions. She is currently exploring the lectin-glycan interactions in immunomodulation.

Xinghai Liu

PhD Student
Xinghai is a PhD student who joined the Mahal Lab in September 2020. He received his Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from the University of Alberta. He is currently working on the mechanism study of regulating miRNA.

Ifthiha Mohideen

Postdoctoral Member
Ifthiha is a postdoctoral fellow who joined the Mahal Lab in October 2021. She completed her PhD in Biology at Concordia University, Montreal in the summer of 2021. During her PhD, she worked in the lab of Dr. David Kwan, where she focused on researching and harnessing the substrate flexibility of enzymes involved in natural product glycosylation towards better therapeutics. Before joining Concordia, she obtained her BSc (Honors) in Plant Biotechnology from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. She is currently working on lectin microarray analysis. Outside of the lab, she enjoys baking and traveling.

Ric Qin

PhD Student
Ric Qin joined the Mahal Lab after receiving his Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2017. Ric’s research focuses on the host glycomic responses in infectious diseases, network analysis of glycosylation pathways, and madeleine recipes.
masters student

Fatema Tuz Zohora

Master's Student
Fatema Tuz Zohora was born and raised in Chittagong, a beautiful coastal city in Bangladesh, which is famous for having the largest port in the country. She received her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy from the University of Science & Technology Chittagong (USTC). She is currently working as a Master’s student in the Mahal Lab and joined in September 2019. Her research interest focuses on the miRNA regulation of glycogenes associated with N-linked branching pathway. Outside of the lab, Fatema has a profound interest in music, and in her spare time plays the ukulele, watches movies and loves to cook (a newfound interest during the global pandemic).

Staff

Tabea Adam

Administrator
Tabea obtained her BSc specialization in Immunology and Infection from the University of Alberta in 2017. She worked full-time as a telecommunications operator for the RCMP and part-time as a research assistant in the Department of Pediatrics before joining the Mahal Lab in March 2022. Outside of work, she enjoys reading and writing.

Dr. Dawn Macdonald

Senior Lab Technologist (Lab Manager)
Dawn joined the Mahal Lab in September 2019 and is a molecular biologist/cell biologist with extensive experience working with mouse models. Her research interests have focused on bacterial pathogenesis, atherosclerosis, the mitotic checkpoint and tumor hypoxia and now glycobiology. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Microbiology (Honors) at the University of Guelph in 1987 and obtained her PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Alberta in 1994.

Hoi Hei (Hallie) Ng

Lab Technician
Hallie received her BSc specialization in Biochemistry from the University of Alberta in 2019 and joined the Mahal Lab as a laboratory technician in September 2021. She is currently working on cloning. Outside of work, she enjoys watching documentaries and reading manga.

Simon Pojasok

Junior Lab Assistant
Simon is currently an undergraduate student studying immunology at the University of Alberta and joined the Mahal Lab in August of 2021. In his spare time, he enjoys watching Sunday football and working on his Swedish car, a Saab, during the summer months.

Parisa Raeisimakiani

Lab Technician
Parisa received her BSc specialization in Molecular Genetics in 2010 in Iran. She then moved to India and completed her first MSc in Applied Genetics at Bangalore University in 2013. In 2016 she joined Dr. Matthias Götte’s Lab to pursue her second master’s degree in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Alberta. She joined the Mahal Lab as a laboratory technologist in February 2021 and is currently working on lectin microarray analysis. When not working, Parisa loves baking, cooking, and hiking in the mountains.

Dr. Angela Sacher

Administrator
Angie obtained her PhD in Translation Studies from the University of Alberta and joined the Mahal Lab in August 2019. She has many years of experience in business administration and finance and is the Administrator for the Mahal Lab Group. Outside of work, Angie loves spending time with her family and pursuing her passion for photography.

Stephanie Stitt

Lab Assistant
Stephanie obtained her Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences from the University of Alberta in 2020. She joined the Mahal Lab in February of 2021 and fills a role as laboratory support staff. Outside of the workplace, she plays softball year-round, enjoys crochet, and spending time with her dogs.

Nicholas Twells

Lab Technician
Nicholas received his BSc from the University of Alberta and joined the Mahal Lab in March of 2021. He is currently working on lectin microarray analysis. In his spare time, he enjoys playing guitar, playing badminton, and cooking.

Alumni

Affiliate Researchers

Dr. Praveen Agrawal (joint with Laboratory of Prof. Eva Hernando, NYU Langone Medical School)

Ms. Duong Bui (joint with Prof. John Klassen, Dept. of Chemistry, UAlberta)

Dr. Mohamed Elaish (joint with Laboratory of Prof. Tom Hobman, Dept of Cell Biology, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, UAlberta)

Postdoctoral Fellows

Dr. Joao Ribeiro – Scientist, Valneva Austria GmbH, Vienna, Austria

Dr. John Rakus – Assistant Professor, Biochemistry, Marshall College

Dr. Aditya Sanki – Senior Principal Investigator at Syngene International Limited

Claudia Acevedo-Morantes – Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Chemistry, University of Alberta

Dr. Praveen Agarwal – Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Graduate Students

Ms. Jennifer Rummpe

Mr. Alexander Preston (MA 2008)

Ms. Lisa Alexander (MA 2009)

Ms. Susan Anderson-Dixon (MA 2009)

Ms. Megan Brown (MA 2009)

Dr. Ken (Ku-Lung) Hsu (PhD 2009) – Associate Professor of Chemistry, University of Virginia

Dr. Lakshmi Krishnamoorthy (PhD 2009) – Postdoctoral Fellow, Prof. Chris Chang, U.C. Berkeley

Dr. Luz Carrillo (PhD 2010) – Assistant Professor of Chemistry-Palomar College

Dr. Kanoelani Pilobello (PhD 2011) – Research Associate, Wyss Institute, Harvard

Dr. Daniel Propheter (PhD 2011) – Postdoctoral Fellow, Prof. Laura Hooper, U.T. Southwestern

Dr. Bianca Batista (PhD 2011) – Professor of Practice, Southern Methodist University

Dr. Yaxuan Liang (PhD 2015) – Investigator, iCarbonX/Shenzen Digital Life Institute, Shenzen, Guangdong, China

Dr. Linlin Wang (PhD 2015) – Research Scientist, Y-mAbs Therapeutics, Inc.

Dr. Tomasz Kurcon (PhD 2016) – Scientist, Cellectis. Mr. Zhongyin Liu (M.Sc. 2016)– SynBio Tech

Dr. Christopher Vaiana (PhD 2016) – Postdoctoral Fellow, Prof. Christopher Voight, MIT

Dr. Lawrence Meche (PhD 2017)

Dr. Sujeethraj Koppolu (PhD 2018) – Bioinformatics Scientist, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals

Dr. Lauren Zhang (PhD 2018) – Senior Project Manager, Protheragen

Dr. Daniel Heindel (PhD 2020) – Postdoctoral Fellow, Prof. Catarina Hioe, Icahn School of Medicine (Mount Sinai)

Ms. Amaani Patel (MSc 2022)

Dr. Shuhui Chen (PhD 2022)

Undergraduate Students

Carolin Aizouki, Sarah Abbassi, Tommy Cai, Chris Leija, Andersen Lee, Louis Lee, Abdullah Jeroudi, Sasir Mallela, Natalie Ramirez, Deepika Slawek, Lisa Thoyakulathu, Brooke Todd, Domini Maddox, Prathiba Pandian, Luat Pham, Zafar Syed, Joshua Froemming, Monika Abramczuk, Rui Yang, Lauren Lashua, Aaron Barnett, Lisa Shah, Anika Paradkhar, William Pau, Zain Javaid, Vittoria Boni, Farzana Mohamed, Jay Nigam, Kimberley Chen, Salankara Bandyopadhyay, Meagan McDermot, Ayushi Mathur, David Christian.

Get in Touch

F.A.Q.

The Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERC) Program awards universities up to $10 million over seven years to support world‑renowned researchers and their teams to establish ambitious research programs at Canadian universities.

Located in beautiful Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, the Chemistry Department at the UofA is renown for its active research. It is one of the best equipped and well funded departments in Canada.

It is a glycomic technology developed in the Mahal Lab, provide a rapid analysis of the glycome (1-3). These microarrays utilize immobilized carbohydrate-binding proteins at high spatial density to give specific information on the repertoire of glycans present.

miRNA can be used to identify glycosylation enzymes and their corresponding glycans that drive disease states.

At the UofA, you do not have to find a supervisor in order to apply. The department has a process in place for students to find a supervisor and join a research group once they arrive to start their program. However, it is recommended for applicants to contact chemistry faculty members whose areas of research are of interest to you. Information about requirements and how to apply can be found here.

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