Winner Profile: Natalie Strynadka

BSC Fellow Profile

Natalie Strynadka

2018 Award Recipient

Dr. Strynadka was trained in Biochemistry at the University of Alberta, where she obtained her B.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in 1985 and 1990, respectively, and was appointed a Gordon Kaplan Memorial Postdoctoral Fellow from 1991 to 1994. Subsequently, Dr. Strynadka joined the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of British Columbia, where she is currently a Distinguished Professor and CRC Tier 1 Chair in Antibiotic Discovery.

Dr. Strynadka is a pioneer in the study of proteins and protein assemblies essential to bacterial pathogenicity and antibiotic resistance. Her ground-breaking dissection of complexes involved in infection, virulence and bacterial cell wall synthesis is having a major impact on the development of antibiotics and vaccines. Dr. Strynadka is unquestionably one of Canada’s most accomplished biophysicists and is recognized worldwide for her unmatched contributions in defining the structural mechanisms underlying microbial diseases.

Many of the proteins studied by Dr. Strynadka, including penicillin-binding proteins and the Type III secretion apparatus, are membrane bound. The analysis of membrane proteins is notoriously difficult and remains one of the “Holy Grails” of biophysics. To tackle this challenge, Dr. Strynadka has undertaken a very multi-disciplinary approach, combining X-ray crystallography, NMR spectroscopy, single particle cryo-electron microscopy, mass spectrometry, and molecular modeling algorithms aiming to piece together structural insight into pathogen-specific membrane assemblies. Only a small number of groups worldwide are capable of such an integrated biophysical approach, and her success in unraveling the mysteries of such complex molecular structures is matched by few.

In addition to receiving numerous prestigious academic awards, Dr. Strynadka has been recognized as a CIHR Scientist, a Burroughs Wellcome Investigator, MSFHR Senior Scholar, and a Killam Fellow of the Canadian Council of the Arts. She is one of only thirteen Howard Hughes Medical Institute Senior International Research Scholars worldwide. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and was most recently elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society, London. Thus far, Dr. Strynadka has published over 160 papers, with an enviable number in top journals including Nature, Cell, and Science. To accomplish this research, Dr. Strynadka has mentored a large team of undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, and a major cohort of her trainees have secured leadership roles in both the academic and biotechnology sectors.