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A Prescription for Hope


Where does AIDS research intersect with work on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease? A point of convergence is the lab of Professor Kagan Kerman (pictured right), a new member of the Physical and Environmental Sciences faculty. The bioanalytical chemist pursues a range of investigations under the umbrella of theranostics – the study of diagnostic techniques and therapeutic agents for treating disease.

“My research on neurodegenerative diseases and HIV/AIDS is truly interdisciplinary and requires insight into biology, chemistry and also physics,” says Kerman, who works with a team in UTSC’s newly renovated Biological Chemistry lab. “In the initial stages, we’re testing various electrochemical and optical techniques to determine the structural changes that peptides and proteins undergo through the development of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.”

Born in Turkey, where he earned two degrees from the University of the Aegean, Kerman completed his PhD at the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology at Osaka University. He came to UTSC in 2008 following post-doctoral postings at the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Western Ontario. His new role combines funded research (he received a Biomedical Young Investigator Award from the Alzheimer Society of Canada) with teaching in bioinorganic, analytical and pharmaceutical chemistry.

“I like to combine my research topics with what I teach at the undergraduate and graduate levels,” Kerman says. “I’m sure UTSC students will have many opportunities to gain research experience in my laboratory.”

As tomorrow’s investigators learn technical skills in the study of nanomaterial-biological molecule interactions, they’ll also help Kerman pursue his ultimate quest: “Our biggest dream is the discovery of compounds that will put an end to devastating diseases such as Alzheimer’s and AIDS.”

© University of Toronto Scarborough