Distinguished Research Professor 2022
The research of Lance Wells, professor in the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center, provides a foundation for understanding the critical biological roles that O-glycan modifications of proteins play to increase functional diversity. Defects in the synthesis of O-glycans are responsible for a host of human diseases including muscular dystrophies and intellectual disabilities. Wells combines cutting-edge technologies and approaches from multiple disciplines, including protein biochemistry, genetics, proteomics, and chemical, cell and molecular biology to gain a mechanistic understanding of the role of O-glycans in these devastating conditions. His experiments exploring abnormal O-glycans that underlie congenital muscular dystrophy have been key to providing a molecular understanding of its etiology, and his laboratory was first to biochemically characterize human mutations in an O-glycan transferase gene that are causal for X-linked intellectual disability. His work has also elucidated high-potential therapeutic targets in diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Type 2 diabetes and cancer, and in viral infection.