2023 Glycobiology Significant Achievement Award
Dr. Matthew S. Macauley

Oxford is delighted to present a 2023 Glycobiology Significant Achievement Award to Dr.Matthew S. Macauley, Associate Professor, University of Alberta, Edmonton. The award will be given to Dr. Macauley during the Annual Meeting of the Society for Glycobiology, which will be held in Hawaii this fall.

Throughout his career, Dr. Macauley has combined glycan chemistry with a robust multidisciplinary approach to make important discoveries in areas related to human health. During his doctoral research (2004-2010) with Dr. David Vocadlo, (Simon Fraser University) he worked on O‑GlcNAcase, publishing >20 papers in highly regarded journals. There, he helped develop a class of carbohydrate-based inhibitors that have since advanced to clinical trials. During his subsequent training as a fellow with Dr. James Paulson (2010-2014) then as an Assistant Professor (2014-2017) at The Scripps Research Institute he shifted to the study of complex glycan recognition, publishing >20 highly regarded papers, most in the field of Siglecs (sialic acid-binding immunoglobulin-like lectins) in immune regulation. He contributed to development of powerful glycan-based nanoparticle immune modulators. When he joined the University of Alberta in 2017, he was already a prolific and respected contributor to the glycosciences.

Since he joined the faculty of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Alberta, Dr. Macauley has built a robust glycobiology discovery team focused on investigating the functions of Siglecs. His team developed versatile Siglec probes, designed Siglec-expressing cell lines, optimized flow cytometric Siglec detection, and generated mouse models expressing human Siglecs to make significant discoveries on their physiological and pathological impacts. Among his team’s important findings are those related to human Siglec-3 (CD33) in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). CD33 is expressed on microglia, the phagocytic immune cells of the brain. Population genetic studies had revealed that CD33 polymorphisms contribute to AD susceptibility. The Macauley lab used diverse Siglec tools to determine the functions of variant isoforms of CD33. They discovered that the common long form of CD33, which is associated with increased AD susceptibility, reduced phagocytosis of AD-associated misfolded proteins. In contrast, the short isoform, which is associated with decreased AD susceptibility, enhanced phagocytosis. These studies exemplify the potential of Siglecs to regulate immune responses in ways that impact disease progression and provide targets for therapeutic intervention.

In exploring broader aspects of Siglec chemistry and biology, the Macauly research team combined their expertise and customized tools to explore the nature of sulfation in Siglec binding. These studies pointed to sulfated sialylated glycans as having especially high affinity for selected Siglecs, pointing the way to enhanced Siglec engagement.

In the past three years alone Dr. Macauley has published >20 papers in our field, most in top tier journals. In that period, he co-authored papers with colleagues from at least a dozen different universities and from research institutes in Canada, the US, Germany, Brazil, Japan, The Netherlands, Taiwan, and Egypt. In addition, he helped organize the PacifiChem symposium on Chemical Glycobiology. As a contributor to and driver of international glycoscience discovery, he is well deserving of this award and Oxford is proud to honor Dr. Macauley as a 2023 Glycobiology Significant Achievement Awardee.