Ontario Genomics and CANSSI Ontario are pleased to announce Dr. Nicholas Waglechner as a recipient of one of three Ontario Genomics-CANSSI Ontario Postdoctoral Fellowship in Genome Data Science.
Dr. Waglechner, who is currently based at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute | Sinai Health in Toronto, studied biochemistry as an undergraduate with a specialization in molecular biology at McMaster University. He continued with an MSc in bioinformatics in the laboratory of Dr. Paul Higgs where he studied models of sequence evolution in bacterial extremophiles, then worked as a bioinformatics research technician in the laboratory of Dr. Gerry Wright at the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research. During this time he worked on the Comprehensive Antibiotic Resistance Database, evolutionary analyses of antimicrobial resistance, the sequencing of multi-drug resistant isolates from pristine environments, and characterized biosynthetic gene cluster diversity from a library of environmental Actinomycetes for the discovery of new antibiotics and antifungals.
He collaborated with investigators sequencing historical pathogens (The Black Death, and cholera) from ancient and preserved remains in Europe and North America. He was awarded a Canadian Institute of Health Research scholarship to continue as a Ph.D. student where he investigated the biosynthetic evolution of glycopeptides, a clinically important family of antibiotics used to treat serious Gram-positive infections. He predicted and identified a novel member in this family, Corbomycin, having a new mechanism of action targeting bacterial cell wall recycling. In 2020 he began postdoctoral work at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto with Dr. Robyn Lee on the genomic epidemiology of Mycobacterium abscessus among adult cystic fibrosis patients, and continued his postdoctoral work at the Toronto Invasive Bacterial Disease Network (TIBDN) at Mount Sinai Hospital with Dr. Allison McGeer where he is investigating the genomic epidemiology of Streptococcus pneumoniae in long term care facilities, as well as environmental and hospital isolates of carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteria (CPE). He is also working with Dr. Stephen Hwang at St. Michael’s Hospital on the COVENANT project studying the genomic epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 in the Toronto shelter system.
Dr. Waglechner received this year’s award for the project: Genomic surveillance of antifungal-resistant Candida in south-Central Ontario.