Glycoscience at the UGA

The University of Georgia (UGA) has a long and distinguished track record in research and training in Glycoscience. It is the home of The Complex Carbohydrate Research Center (CCRC), which was founded in 1985 at UGA to answer the national need for a center devoted to increasing knowledge of the structures and functions of complex carbohydrates, particularly those in plant cell walls. Several years later, the CCRC began expanding into human health-related research, as noted by the receipt of an NCRR P41 Resource Center in Complex Carbohydrates. Eight years ago, the CCRC moved into a ~140,000 sq.ft. building dedicated solely to Glycoscience research, service, and training, specifically designed for its interdisciplinary and equipment-intensive nature. The seventeen research groups of CCRC study the structures and functions of glycans and glycoconjugates of animals, plants, and microbes at the molecular, cellular, and organismal levels, employing both chemical and biological tools. These research groups have developed advanced technologies, including synthesis of complex glycans and glycopeptides, mass spectrometry, NMR spectroscopy, chemical and enzymatic synthesis, molecular modeling, and glycobioinformatics, as well as large-scale, glycan-related enzyme expression, to advance glycoscience.Technology transfer, collaborations with industry and academia, and analytical services for the scientific community are all integral parts of CCRC’s mission. Moreover, the CCRC offers training courses and hands-on workshops, mainly in the summer, on techniques for characterization of glycans, separation and characterization of glycoprotein and glycolipid oligosaccharides, analytical techniques for structural characterization of glycosaminoglycans, and mass spectrometry and NMR of glycoproteins. These courses range in size from about six to twenty six students and include those from the U.S., as well as foreign countries, from both academia and biotechnology/pharma companies. Many graduate students from around the U.S. have attended these courses, which are held in a dedicated teaching laboratory.

The CCRC is the home of four federally designated centers for glycan research, as well as the University of Georgia Cancer Center. These include the National Institutes of Health NIGMS Research Resource for Integrated Glycotechnology, the NIGMS National Center for Biomedical Glycomics, the Department of Energy-funded Center for Plant and Microbial Complex Carbohydrates, and an NSF Functional Genomics Center. The CCRC also has a component of the DOE Bioenergy Science Center that is focused on understanding and manipulating biomass cell walls for energy production. These Centers provide the CCRC with state-of-the-art instrumentation and technology and promote collaboration with researchers throughout the world. Graduate students studying Glycoscience at UGA find an exceptionally collaborative and multi-disciplinary environment.