McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Organic chemist building better drugs joins Faculty of Health Sciences

By Tina Depko
Published: August 23, 2017
Jakob Magolan

Jakob Magolan – inaugural Boris Family Chair in Drug Discovery

Jakob Magolan is excited when he talks about the research opportunities that an organic chemist can bring to the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.

The inaugural Boris Family Chair in Drug Discovery and new faculty member of the Faculty of Health Sciences says his specialization in building synthetic molecules can enable his laboratory to contribute to many of McMaster's biomedical research efforts.

The chair was established at McMaster with funding from the Boris family to strengthen the university's focus on drug discovery.

"My training in organic chemistry prepares me for the chemical synthesis of any small molecule that needs to be made," says Magolan, associate professor in biochemistry and biomedical sciences and a joint member in chemistry and chemical biology.

Magolan comes to McMaster via the University of Idaho, where he was an associate professor of organic chemistry, but he is a native of Kitchener, Ont.

Magolan studied chemistry, physical and health education at Queen's and completed a PhD in organic chemistry at Western. The focus of his doctorate was natural products synthesis and synthetic methodology. 

He worked as a postdoctoral researcher in drug discovery in Brisbane, Australia before relocating to Idaho in 2010.

He says working at McMaster is the opportunity of a lifetime.

"In academia, you don't usually get to choose where you work and you certainly don't get to come back near your extended family," says the father of two.

"This is a fantastic career opportunity to do impactful science and a wonderful move for my family."

Magolan's research focuses on the pre-clinical development of pharmaceutical leads in various therapeutic areas, including antimicrobial and anti-cancer. He also develops new strategies and methodologies for efficient chemical synthesis.

"Most organic chemists work in chemistry departments, but now I have the opportunity to split my research into two areas," he explains.  

"One will remain fundamental organic chemistry research and the other will be biomedical. Biomedical research/drug discovery is always done in interdisciplinary teams and I look forward to building those partnerships."

Magolan's lab is under construction at McMaster, with occupancy set for summer of 2018. He will be recruiting undergraduate and graduate students for fall of 2018.

In addition to his research, Magolan will teach courses in both the faculties of health sciences and science.


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