Dr. Heidi Huttunen-Hennelly

Dr. Heidi Huttunen-Hennelly Dr. Heidi Huttunen-Hennelly
Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops BC, Canada
 
Biography
I am an Associate Chemistry Professor at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada. I came to TRU after completing my PhD at the University of British Columbia, and have been at TRU for eleven years now. TRU is a primarily undergraduate institution so needless to say I love teaching!!! My teaching expertise lies in the areas of general chemistry, organic and bio-organic chemistry, and chemical biology. I teach undergraduate students in all four years of undergraduate curricula. I am keen to teach first-year students, as this provides an opportunity to excite them about chemistry. TRU does have a Masters of Environmental Science and several research opportunities for undergraduate students as well. I have supervised about twenty undergraduate students and two graduates students to date.
 
Research Interest
My research involves using the de novo approach to create novel peptides with antimicrobial activity. My work to date indicates that peptides designed from first principles (i.e. de novo) can exhibit broad-spectrum antimicrobial activities with low hemolysis. The motivation for this work is to create highly active and selective antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) which through comprehensive characterization, will lead to a greater understanding of the elusive relationship between sequence, structure, and function. Resistance of pathogenic bacteria to currently available antibiotics, used in medicine and agriculture, is ever increasing. This antibiotic resistance is seriously problematic since very few new families of antibiotics have been discovered in the past few decades; those of therapeutic value have been isolated from natural products, a limited pool. Thus, there is an increasing demand for the development of novel drugs to combat microbial infections. AMPs are promising drug candidates since they are fast acting and may be less prone to resistance.