Universiteit Leiden

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Zach Armstrong

Assistant Professor

Dr. Z.W.B. Armstrong
+31 71 527 4342

The research interests of Zach Armstrong center on the biocatalysts that promote the synthesis and degradation of carbohydrates.

More information about Zach Armstrong

Curriculum Vitae

Personal information

Nationality:   Canadian
Date of birth:   7 February 1988


2018   PhD, The University of British Columbia, Canada, 2018. Thesis title: “Harnessing natural diversity for the discovery of glycoside hydrolases and design of new glycosynthases”
Advisors: Prof. Steven G. Withers and Prof. Stephen. J. Hallam

Current and previous research positions

2021 – now    Assistant Professor, Leiden Institute of Chemistry, Leiden University, The Netherlands
2018 – 2021   Postdoctoral Research Associate, York Structural Biology Laboratory, University of York, York, England

Grants, awards, recognitions since 2016

2018    NWO Veni Fellowship (k€ 250)

Contribution to teaching and supervision

  • Courses for MSc Chemistry and at Leiden University: Biosynthetic and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Academic Writing
  • Courses for BSc Life Science and Technology and at Leiden University: Bioinformatics, Sustainable Chemical Industry

Co-supervision of 3 PhD students and 1 postdoctoral fellows since 2010.

Other current responsibilities since 2016

  • Peer-Review of Articles for: ACS Catalysis, RSC Chemical Science, mSphere, mSystems, Animal Microbiome, PLOS Biology and Scientific Reports
  • Grant Review for:  Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) , Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)

Publication record including five recent representative publications

29 papers with >600 citations, H-index 15 

Full publication record: Google Scholar

  • Armstrong Z., Meek R. W.†, Wu L., Blaza J. N., Davies G. J. (2022) Cryo-EM structures of human fucosidase FucA1 reveal insight into substrate recognition and catalysis. Cell Structure, Structure 30 (10), 1443-1451. e5. DOI: 10.1016/j.str.2022.07.001
  • de Boer C., Armstrong Z.,  Lit V.A.J, Barash U., Ruijgrok G., Boyango I., Weitzenberg M. M. , Schröder S. P., Sarris A.J.C., Meeuwenoord N.J., Bule P.,  Kayal Y.,  Ilan N., Codée J.D.C., Vlodavsky I., Overkleeft H.S., Davies G.J.,  Wu L. (2022) Mechanism-based heparanase inhibitors reduce cancer metastasis in vivo. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 119, 31, e2203167119. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2203167119
  • Armstrong Z. , Kuo C-L., Lahav D., Liu B., Johnson R., Beenakker T. J. M., de Boer C., Wong C-S., van Rijssel E. R., Debets M. F., Florea B., Boot R. G., Ovaa H., van der Stelt M., Codée J., Aerts J. M. F. G., Wu L., Overkleeft H., Davies G. (2020) Manno-epi-cyclophellitols Enable Activity-Based Protein Profiling of Human α-Mannosidases and Discovery of New Golgi Mannosidase II Inhibitors. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 142(30) 13021–13029. DOI: 10.1021/jacs.0c03880
  • Armstrong Z., Davies G. (2020) Structure and function of Bs164 β-mannosidase from Bacteroides salyersiae the founding member of glycoside hydrolase family GH164. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 295(13) 4316–4326. DOI: 10.1074/jbc.RA119.011591
  • Armstrong Z., Mewis K., Liu F., Scofield M., Durno E., Chen H.M., Mehr K., Withers S.G., Hallam S.J., (2018) Metagenomics Reveals Functional Specialization and Novel Polysaccharide Utilization Loci in the Castor canadensis Fecal Microbiome. The ISME Journal, 12 (11), 2757. DOI: 10.1038/s41396-018-0215-9

Presentations including five presentations at international conferences since 2016

  • Armstrong Z. (2023) The Cryo-EM structure of human fucosidase FucA1. European Carbohydrate Symposium XXI. Paris, France 
  • Armstrong Z. (2023) Structure-Based Analysis of Inhibitors for Human Heparanase. 7th Gratama Conference. Nagasaki, Japan
  • Armstrong Z. (2023) Arming Carbohydrates to Treat Disease. Royal Society of Chemistry Carbohydrate Interest Group Spring Symposium. London, UK * Session Keynote
  • Armstrong Z. (2019) Manno-Configured epi-Cyclophellitol Aziridine Based Fluorescence Polarization Activity-Based Protein Profiling Identifies New Golgi A-Mannosidase Inhibitors. Eurocarb XX. Leiden, Netherlands. 
  • Armstrong Z. (2017) Harnessing Natural Diversity for New Glycosynthases. 2017 Volcano Conference in Chemical Biology. Pack Forest, Washington, USA. American Chemical Society Meeting (April 2017)

Assistant Professor

  • Science
  • Leiden Institute of Chemistry
  • LIC/Chemical Biology
  • LIC/CB/Bio-organic Synthesis

Work address

Gorlaeus Building
Einsteinweg 55
2333 CC Leiden
Room number CE3.17



  • No relevant ancillary activities
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