Gerd Wagner
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Personal profile

Research interests

Dr Wagner's main research interests are in medicinal chemistry and chemical biology – developing chemical tools to address biological and biomedical problems. Research in his laboratory sits at the interface of chemistry and biology and research projects in his group - such as the development of inhibitors and assays for therapeutically relevant enzymes - are generally very interdisciplinary. Dr Wagner and his group use a range of different methods, from organic synthesis, through protein biochemistry to various analytical techniques, particularly fluorimetry. The Wagner group collaborates extensively with external partners in the UK, Denmark and Germany.

Current projects

GLYCOSYLTRANSFERASES AS DRUG TARGETS. Glycosyltransferases (GTs) are enzymes that catalyse the transfer of a monosaccharide from a glycosyl donor to a suitable acceptor, e.g. a glycan, peptide or lipid (see e.g. Annu. Rev. Biochem. 2008, 77, 521-555). GTs play a key role in many biological processes underpinning human health and disease, including glycoprotein and cell wall biosynthesis in human pathogens, carcinogenesis, and cellular adhesion. Individual GTs represent promising therapeutic targets, and the Wagner group is developing small molecular GT inhibitors as lead compounds for drug discovery, and as chemical tools for the investigation of glycosylation networks in living systems (Nat. Chem. Biol. 2010, 6, 321-323.)

SYNTHETIC MODIFICATIONS OF BIOMOLECULES IN AQUEOUS SOLUTION. Dr Wagner and his group have developed synthetic methodology for the direct structural modification of sensitive biomolecules in aqueous media, obviating the need for protecting groups and for lengthy synthetic sequences. The group has particular expertise in the Pd-catalysed cross-coupling of nucleosides, nucleotides, sugar-nucleotides and amino acids. This synthetic approach has proved very useful for the generation of novel fluorescent bioprobes.

CHEMICAL TOOLS FOR NAD-DEPENDENT ENZYMES. The dinucleotide NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) is required as a cofactor not only by redox enzymes, but also by other enzyme classes which use NAD for covalent modifications. Many of these enzymes, such as the PARP enzymes, the sirtuins, and NAD-dependent ligases, play essential roles in cell signalling and transcription, and are exciting molecular targets for chemical biology and drug discovery. Dr Wagner and his group are currently developing structural analogues of NAD for the selective inhibition of individual enzymes and for the real-time imaging of their activity, e.g. in living cells

Research interests (short)

Dr Wagner's main research interests are in medicinal chemistry and chemical biology – developing chemical tools to address biological and biomedical problems.

Biographical details

Gerd Wagner is currently a Reader in Medicinal Chemistry at King’s College London. Originally from beautiful South Germany, Gerd holds a degree in Pharmacy from the University of Freiburg and a PhD in Medicinal Chemistry (advisor: Professor Stefan Laufer) from the University of Tuebingen – two of Germany’s oldest and most prestigious academic institutions. In 2002, he joined the group of Professor Barry Potter at the University of Bath (UK) for postdoctoral studies on the role of cADPR (cyclic adenosine diphosphate ribose) and related dinucleotides in calcium signalling. He stayed in the UK to start his independent academic career, taking up a lectureship in Medicinal Chemistry at the University of East Anglia in 2004. In 2010, he moved to King’s College London, first as a Senior Lecturer, and since 2012 as a Reader.

At King’s, he is based jointly in the Institute of Pharmaceutical Science and the new Department of Chemistry. In Chemistry, he is the programme director for the new undergraduate programme “Chemistry with Biomedicine”, which has taken its first students in September 2012. With Helen Hailes (UCL) and Andrew Stachulski (Oxford), he has organised the first Joint Meeting of the RSC Carbohydrate and Bioorganic Interest Groups, held at King’s College in April 2011.

Gerd’s main research interests are in medicinal chemistry and chemical biology, and his work has recently been highlighted in a “Young Researcher” profile in MedChemWatch, the official newsletter of the European Federation for Medicinal Chemistry (EFMC).

A primary target are glycosyltransferases, Nature’s glycosylation agents. These enzymes are promising molecular targets in a range of therapeutic areas, from infection to inflammation and cancer, and research in the Wagner group has recently led to the discovery of a novel type of allosteric inhibitor for glycosyltransferases (Nat Chem Biol 2010, 6, 321-323). Details about this and other current projects in the group can be found on the “Research” page, and also on the pages of individual group members (see links at the bottom of this page).

The Wagner group is very international and interdisciplinary: members of the group hail from Austria, Finland, Germany, India, Italy as well as the UK, and have a background in synthetic-organic as well as medicinal and analytical chemistry, biochemistry and pharmacy.

We are always looking to recruit talented and motivated scientists. If you are interested in joining the Wagner group, then please feel free to contact Gerd directly.


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

External positions

Associate Editor BMC Research Notes, SpringerNature Publishing

16 Jun 2017 → …


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