Posted on March 9, 2010 by Tia Lalani

Nhial Tiitmamer introduces Dr. Brian Rempel: professor of chemistry and fluorosugar anti-enzyme activist.

By Nhial Tiitmamer –

Dr. Brian Rempel joined Augustana Faculty last semester as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry. Since arriving, Rempel has taught courses in Introductory and Organic Chemistry. He is also developing new courses in Advanced Organic Chemistry and Enzymology. He received his Bachelor of Science (Hons.) from the University of Alberta in 2003 and a PhD from the University of British Columbia in 2009 .

Rempel has been very excited about his time at Augustana Campus. He values the close-knit, interactive academic community where students aren’t considered numbers, narrow specialists or spectators.

“I have found my interactions with students to be every bit as rewarding as I could have hoped for, and their enthusiasm and curiosity make working here one of the best jobs in the world,” he said. “The small class sizes mean that I get an opportunity to know and learn from my students in a way that is just not possible in a lecture hall with many hundreds of seats.”

Rempel has a way of engaging his students which allows them to appreciate chemistry and discover how they can use it to change the world around them for the better.

“I hope to bring enthusiasm and wonder for the world around us into my classes, and show students how the tools of chemistry can be used as one part of the greater body of science to explore and understand how the universe works,” he remarked. “I would hope that students gain an appreciation for how chemistry is much more than "plug-and-chug" problems and rote memorization of reactions, but is instead a fascinating exploration of nature with applications in everyday life.”
Rempel’s passion for teaching began after working as a teaching assistant during his undergraduate years at the University of Alberta’s North Campus in Edmonton. “The experience ignited my continuing passion for working with students and helping them discover their interest in science,” he said.

During his years of graduate study, Rempel taught at the UBC’s Chemistry Resource Center.“I found it to be a deeply rewarding and satisfying experience. It confirmed for me that my ultimate career aspirations do include a significant amount of teaching, as I think that working with students is one of the best jobs imaginable,” he said. “I was also fortunate to have the opportunity to guest lecture in my supervisors’ section of organic chemistry, which proved to be invaluable experience for my future career goals as well.”

His future career was also shaped by his experience working as an undergraduate summer research student with Drs. Ole Hindsgaul, Monica Palcic and Rik Tykwinski of the University of Alberta on intriguing subjects such as Frontal Affinity Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (FAC-MS), Nanoscale Enzyme Assay with the use of Capillary Electrophoresis and a series of chiral oxidation reagents.

Rempel’s PhD research project focused on the development of “potential diagnostic or therapeutic leads for a series of related genetic diseases known as the Lysosomal Storage Diseases, with a specific focus on Gauchers disease and Mucopolysaccharidosis I.” He was very successful in developing “a new leaving group for a class of mechanism-based inactivators known as the activated fluorosugars, that improved the activity against one of the target enzymes by more than a thousandfold.” He also helped develop a new class of radio labeling agent for glycosidase, which can be used to study enzyme biodistribution using Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging.

At Augustana, Rempel’s research focuses on the “interface” between organic chemistry and biochemistry. He is particularly interested in the use of organic synthesis to assist in the development of ways to study mechanisms and actions of enzymes.

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