Prof Helen Blanchard

BSc, PhD



Professor Helen Blanchard joined the University of Galway in 2023, being appointed under the Senior Academic Leadership Initiative (SALI) as an Established Professor of Chemistry within the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, College of Science and Engineering. She has also been appointed as the College Vice Dean for Internationalisation. The prior 20 years Prof. Blanchard worked in academia in Australia, most recently as Head of the School of Chemistry and Molecular Bioscience, and member of Molecular Horizons research institute, at the University of Wollongong, New South Wales. She is an adjunct Professor at the Institute for Glycomics, Griffith University, Queensland where she was a research group leader since 2002, served as Director of Higher Degree Research (Griffith Sciences, 2013-2019), and in 2018 was appointed as Deputy Dean Research Griffith Sciences. In 2023 she was elected to the Board of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Member Communities Board -Local Sections. 

Earlier career
: Following her Ph.D in Chemistry and small molecule X-ray crystallography (University of London, UK,1990) Helen was awarded an Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research Postdoctoral Fellowship working in protein X-ray crystallography at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada. She continued research focused on protein structure determination and drug-design at: The Biotechnology Research Institute (BRI), National Research Council of Canada, Montréal; the University of San Diego (UCSD) USA; the University of ZÜrich, Switzerland; St, Vincent's Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne, Australia; the University of Queensland, Australia; and in industry in Basel, Switzerland. In 2006, she was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC) in recognition of her structural biology and inhibitor design research.

Professor Blanchard's research focuses on exploring protein recognition of molecules, predominantly the investigation of protein-carbohydrate interactions and using this atomic information in structure-based inhibitor design. A major area of her research targets the carbohydrate-recognising proteins galectins, many of which have roles in cancer. Aims include the design of small-molecule compounds as potential therapeutics to block galectin interactions with host-cell carbohydrates, to reduce or eliminate tumour growth and metastasis, thereby reducing cancer progression.