Department of Chemistry

Megan Kizer

Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Research Interests Glycochemistry, Directed evolution, Probe development, Cancer therapeutics, Microbial immunology


Research Statement 

Research in our lab focuses on understanding the role of glycans implicated in human health and disease.  Glycans (complex carbohydrates) are information-rich biopolymers critical to many biological processes, and act as major modes of communication and protection across organisms.  For example, different cancers exhibit carcinoma-specific aberrant glycosylation, bacterial and viral surface glycans serve as molecular loci for host cell adherence and infection, and proper cell differentiation and development relies on exquisite control of glycosaminoglycan sulfation patterns.  Despite this broad importance across biology, our current understanding of glycan function is limited compared to other biomolecules.  Unlike DNA, RNA, and proteins, our means of making and detecting these carbohydrate biomolecules in chemically precise fashions is severely lacking.  

To tackle these limitations, our group leverages techniques across chemistry, molecular biology, and engineering to develop novel tools for the investigation of glycans.  Utilizing a semi-automated directed evolution approach, we generate protein probes to specifically detect glycan epitopes.  Engineering plug-and-play flow reactors, we precisely synthesize glycan epitopes for use as both reagents and therapeutics.  Leveraging the base-pair specificity of DNA, we synthesize nanostructured glycoconjugate mimetics towards vaccine development and understanding mechanisms of infection.

Students in our lab will receive training in chemical biology, synthetic carbohydrate chemistry, enzyme biochemistry, microfluidics, biological nanotechnology, and respective state-of-the art characterization methods.  Students will also have the opportunity to explore biological applications of their work in cancer biology, microbiology and immunology.  The interdisciplinary nature of our group’s work continually seeks diverse students and researchers from various backgrounds


  • 2022 – Postdoctoral Training, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Advisor: Barbara Imperiali) 
  • 2019 – PhD Chemistry, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Advisors: Robert Linhardt and Xing Wang) 
  • 2015 – BS Biochemistry, SUNY Binghamton (Advisor: Sozanne Solmaz)


Equal Contribution

Ward, E. M., Kizer, M.E., and Imperiali, B. Strategies and Tactics for the Development of Selective Glycan-Binding Proteins. ACS Chemical Biology. 2021, 16 (10), 1795-1813. (Link)

Kwon, P.S., Ren, S., S-J. Kwon, S-J.Kizer, M.E., Kuo, L., Zhou, F., Zhang, F., Kim, D., Fraser, K., Kramer, L.D., Seeman, N.C, Dordick, J.S., Linhardt, R.J., Chao, J. and Wang, X.Designer DNA architecture offers precise and multivalent spatial pattern-recognition for viral sensing and inhibition. Nature Chemistry. 2020, 12, 26-35. (Link)

Kizer, M.E., Deng, Y., Kang, G-Y., Mikael, P.E., Zhu, K., Wang, X., Chung, A.J. Hydroporator: A hydrodynamic cell membrane perforator for the high-throughput vector-free intracellular delivery of nanomaterials and an evaluation of DNA nanostructure biostability in living cells. Lab on a Chip2019, 19, 1747-1754. (Link)

Kizer, M., Jing, T.J., Huntress, I.D., Walcott, B.D., Bromley, J.P., Fraser, K., Bystroff, C., and Wang, X. The complex between a multi-junction DNA motif, PX-DNA, and T7 endonuclease I. Biochemistry. 2019, 58 (10), 1332-1342. (Link)

Cheng, A., Zhang, X., Kizer, M., Wang, R., Middleton, D., Li, M., Wang, X., Li, X., Avci, F.Y., Zhang, F., and Linhardt, R.J. Glycoconjugate synthesis using chemoselective ligation. Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry. 2019, 17, 2646-2650. (Link)

Kizer, M., Li, P., Cress, B.F., Lin, L., Jing, T.J., Zhang, X., Xia, K., Linhardt, R.J., and Wang, X. RNA aptamers with specificity for heparosan and chondroitin glycosaminoglycans. ACS Omega2018. 3 (10), 13667-13675. (Link)