Rachel Hevey is a Research Associate at the University of Basel (Switzerland) with a keen passion for developing carbohydrate-based pharmaceuticals. Born in Toronto, Canada, she completed B.Sc. degrees in both Chemistry and Biological Sciences before undertaking her Ph.D. studies in glycochemistry at the University of Calgary (Canada). In November 2013, Rachel joined the University of Basel as a postdoctoral researcher, and in January 2015 was promoted to a Research Associate.
Her main research interests involve improving the ‘drug-like’ properties of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates play an essential role in cellular biology, but their chemical properties (e.g. very high polarity) make them poor small molecule drug candidates; they suffer from low binding affinities, are unable to cross membranes, and are rapidly cleared from the body. Rachel’s research interests involve designing and synthesizing glycomimetic ligands with improved pharmaceutical properties and enhanced binding affinities. Due to the multidisciplinary nature of the research, active collaborations with both local and international teams has been critical for advancing the projects: structural biologists, computational chemists, protein engineers, and others work together to assess activity of the compounds.
Rachel’s successes in both research and teaching have been recognized through a number of awards, including the J.B. Hyne Research Innovation Award, Dr. Don. F. Tavares Graduate Teaching Award, Bonnie E. King Memorial Graduate Scholarship, and the Queen Elizabeth II Doctoral Scholarship, among several others. She has held membership in the American Chemical Society, Canadian Chemical Society, Swiss Young Chemists Association, Swiss Chemical Society, and Life Sciences Switzerland, and since 2015 has served on the committee of the Basel Postdoc Network, which organizes events for the young researcher community of Basel in various disciplines of both academia and industry.