erin louise westman

About Myself


Erin Louise Westman


Milton, ON, Canada


PhD - Molecular and Cellular Biology

BSc - Molecular Biology and Genetics, minor in Philosophy

    University of Guelph

Current Position:

Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute of Infectious Disease Research at McMaster University; supervisor Dr. Wright



My Recent Awards

Institutional Grants:


Michael G. DeGroote Fellowship Award (McMaster)

2004, 2006 & 2007

University Graduate Scholarship (Guelph)


Robinson Research Travel Grant (Guelph)

Federal Scholarships:


Canadian Institutes of Health Research Canada Graduate Scholarship Doctoral Research Award


National Science and Engineering Research Council Postgraduate Scholarship - Doctoral


National Science and Engineering Research Council Postgraduate Scholarship - Master’s

Foundation Awards:


FASEB Microbial Polysaccharides Student Travel Award


Academic Training

Postdoctoral Fellowship Research Summary:  I am currently working on a project under the supervision of Dr. Gerry Wright, at McMaster University. This research will involve the investigation of atypical linezolid resistance mechanisms.

PhD Research Summary:  My thesis focused on the biosynthesis of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) from Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is the main causative agent of chronic pulmonary infections in patients with cystic fibrosis.  LPS possesses endotoxic properties, and forms a surface coat that protects the bacterium from killing by host defense mechanisms.  My most significant contribution was the characterization of the biosynthetic pathway responsible for the creation of di-N-acetylated mannuronic acid sugar-nucleotide precursors (UDP-D-ManNAc3NAcA) that are used in Pseudomonas aeruginosa to construct the heteropolymeric form of LPS O antigen.  These unusual sugars are also found in the Band A trisaccharide from Bordetella pertussis, a pathogen responsible for whooping cough, and I established that biosynthesis likely occurs through the same pathway in these two organisms.  My studies also allowed me to achieve the synthesis of a novel sugar, UDP-D-GlcNAc3NA, and to improve on existing methods for the production of UDP-D-GlcNAc3NAcA.

Freelance Writing

    I believe that many people are interested in the results of the latest studies, but not everyone has the time or desire to read the primary literature.  My goal is to analyze complicated research and prepare a summary suitable for a layperson that helps to interpret research conclusions and clarifies the important issues.

    My first commissioned article, “Jurassic Flu: Pathogen from the Past” was prepared for Genome BC’s Genomics Education website.  In the article, I discuss the re-creation of the 1918 influenza virus and its possible impact on health and risks to society.

    Representatives from any print or electronic publication are encouraged to contact me to discuss topics for compositions.