Dr. Nicholas Waglechner recipient of 2021 Ontario Genomics-CANSSI Ontario Postdoctoral Fellowships in Genome Data Science.
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.
The Ontario Genomics-CANSSI Ontario Postdoctoral Fellowship in Genome Data Science was created to support research projects that deepen our understanding of genomic epidemiology of infectious disease, using genomics for pathogen surveillance or host-virus genetic interaction by providing salary support for up to two years for an early career investigator pursuing research in the areas of statistical genetics or genetic epidemiology.
Established in 2000, Ontario Genomics is a not-for-profit organization leading the application of genomics-based solutions to drive economic growth, improved quality of life, and global leadership for Ontario. As part of its strategic vision, Ontario Genomics (OG) is dedicated to supporting the development of educational resources that demonstrate how genomics plays a vital role to address key challenges in our society. Ontario Genomics also plays a role in advancing genomics projects and programs across the province by supporting the development of proposals, helping researchers access diverse funding sources, and finding the right industry partners to take this research out of the lab to apply it to the world’s most pressing challenges. Since its inception, Ontario Genomics has raised more than $1.27 billion for genomics applied research in Ontario and directly supported more than 9,100 trainees and jobs. OG supports 110+ active projects, 500+ impactful partnerships and has secured $1.34 billion in follow-on investments.
CANSSI Ontario is the Ontario Regional Centre of the Canadian Statistical Sciences Institute (CANSSI). Its goal is to strengthen and enhance research and training in data science by developing programs that promote interdisciplinary research and enable multidisciplinary collaborations.