From the building blocks of nature to disease-battling therapeutics and vaccines, carbohydrates have had a profound impact on evolution, society, economy, and human health.

Glycoworld's Contribution to Science

With participation of around 150 co-workers/trainees, the Glycoworld laboratory has developed many innovative tools for the synthesis and application of carbohydrates.

Numerous applications of these essential biomolecules in many areas of science and technology exist, most of which can be found in the area of development of therapeutic agents and diagnostic platforms.  Although carbohydrates are desirable for the biological and medical communities, these molecules are very challenging targets for chemists because of the need for functionalization, protecting and leaving group manipulations, controlling anomeric stereoselectivity, etc. 

Research Interests

  • Stereocontrol and other mechanistic aspects of chemical glycosylation. Novel glycosylation reactions.
  • Regioselective protection of carbohydrate molecules. Design and application of modern protecting groups and strategies to the synthesis of versatile building blocks. 
  • Metal complexes in synthetic carbohydrate chemistry: stereodirecting effects on glycosylation, regioselectivity, activation, temporary deactivation, switchable stereoselectivity, etc.
  • Expeditious strategies for the synthesis of complex oligosaccharides and glycoconjugates: chemoselectivity and orthogonality of modern building blocks.
  • Solid phase and surface chemistry: application to stereoselective glycosylation and rapid assembly of complex oligosaccharides and glycoconjugates.
  • Combinatorial and automated synthesis. New platforms and technologies for automated oligosaccharide synthesis: STICS and HPLC-A approaches.
  • Synthetic glycopharmaceuticals based on carbohydrates with potential biological activity (anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antibacterial).
  • Synthetic glycoproteins, glycopeptides, glycopolymers, glycolipids, glycoheterocycles, glycoaminoacids and combinations thereof. Synthetic glycoconjugate vaccines.
  • Human milk oligosaccharides and other food additives and ingredients.  Oligosaccharides as prebiotics.

Grant Support

Glycoworld is currently supported by grants from the National Institute of General Medical Studies and the National Science Foundation. My laboratory has recently completed projects supported by the NIH Common Fund, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Mizutani Foundation for Glycosciences, Cary Pharmaceuticals, and Pfizer Inc.

Higher purpose. Greater good.

If you are interested in applying for a graduate program we encourage you to visit the Saint Louis University Website.


It is my belief that teaching can only happen in the context of a human relationship, and it is my desire to first create an atmosphere or learning environment in which all people in a room can connect. In the first few minutes of a lecture or a presentation, I try to establish the shared passion for chemistry as a common ground.  In that territory of shared passion, the sharing of ideas or communication becomes easier. What I may think about a molecule, a reaction, a mechanism, or a topic need not be what my student thinks; rather, we think together, share our knowledge with each other, and learn together how to think better. I often use group assignments and chalk-board exercises, extended office hours, casual settings for study groups, and one-page quizzes in even the largest classes. It is my objective to maintain classes as communities of learners by keeping all constantly aware of the others’ objectives, different perspectives, and shared passions. In doing this, I attempt to teach students how to think as well as how to broaden their scientific knowledge base.

If you are interested in becoming a member of glycoworld, please contact us.

If you want to know more about graduate studies at SLU and the minimum requirements, please visit the SLU Graduate Studies Website.

  • SLU is one of only 14 Catholic universities with a “high or very high” research activity classification from the Carnegie Foundation.
  • Ninety-nine percent of SLU’s tenured faculty hold the highest degree in their fields.
  • St. Louis has recently been named the best city in the country for new grads and one ofo the best U.S. cities where “20-somethings” can afford to work and live.
  • SLU is located near cultural offerings and a vast array of internship and other professional opportunities. 

You can watch a video of Dr. Demchenko discuss his research which is focused on developing new automated methods to build glycans here:

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