Ryan Moreira and Jacob Soley, two doctoral students with Professor Scott Taylor, were awarded the 2018 Dr. J. Leopold Koppel Graduate Scholarship for scholastic excellence in biochemistry and/or molecular biology.
The scholarship, established by John and Suzanne Koppel, honours the memory of John’s late father, Johannes Leopold Koppel, a former professor of biochemistry in the Faculty of Science at Waterloo. It’s awarded annually by the Faculty of Science to a graduate student in the Department of Biology or the Department of Chemistry.
Ryan Moreira, a first year PhD student with Prof. Taylor, does research on the development and study of a class of antibiotics called cyclic lipopeptides. Although only two cyclic lipopeptide antibiotics are currently in clinical use, it is an important class of antibiotics as they are often effective for treating infections that do not respond to other classes of antibiotics. Ryan’s ultimate goal is to expand the repertoire of clinically relevant cyclic lipopeptide antibiotics.
“I am exceedingly grateful to the Koppolds' for their generous award which will allow me to spend more time in the lab synthesizing and testing new lipopeptide antibiotics,” says Moreira. “Support for researchers is often fleeting and an award like this has provided me with some much needed validation and recognition.”
Jacob Soley, a PhD student in his third year with Prof. Taylor, does research on developing drugs that target bacterial virulence factors. Virulence factors are proteins that are secreted by pathogenic bacteria upon infection. These virulence factors interact human macromolecules, such as antibodies, and, upon doing so, prevent the macromolecules from doing their job. The antivirulence drugs that Jacob is developing disarm the bacteria by inactivating the virulence factors.
“I consider this award to be a huge achievement for me personally, coming to Ontario to pursue a graduate degree has been a challenging path and was not without doubt,” says Soley. “Being recognized in this way has given me tremendous confidence in that choice and a renewed enthusiasm for chemistry in general.”
Congratulations, Ryan and Jacob!