Barbara Imperiali

Barbara Imperiali

Class of 1922 Professor of Biology and Chemistry

Barbara Imperiali studies the biogenesis and myriad functions of glycoconjugates in human health and disease.





Meg Rheault



Assistant Phone


  • PhD, 1983, MIT
  • BSc, 1979, Medicinal Chemistry, University College London

Research Summary

We study diverse aspects of protein structure and function and employ multidisciplinary approaches to address fundamental problems at the interface of chemistry and biology. We are fascinated by the amazing complexity and myriad functions of glycoconjugates in human health and disease. Still more enthralling are the intricate membrane-associated pathways that lead to the cellular biogenesis of these important macromolecules. Our group applies approaches and technologies from a wide range of synergistic fields including chemical biology (for inhibitor and probe development), biochemistry and biophysics (for analyses within and beyond native and model membranes), and cellular, molecular and microbiology to unravel these pathways. Ultimately we seek to decipher the molecular logic of glycoconjugate biosynthesis and to identify processes to target in the study of infectious disease.


  • National Academy of Sciences, Member, 2010
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC) 2006
  • American Chemical Society - Breslow Award for Achievement in Biomimetic Chemistry 2006
  • Protein Society - Kaiser Award, 2006
  • Margaret MacVicar Faculty Fellow, 2003-2013
  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Fellow, 2001

Key Publications

  1. Biochemical evidence for an alternate pathway in N-linked glycoprotein biosynthesis. Larkin, A, Chang, MM, Whitworth, GE, Imperiali, B. 2013. Nat Chem Biol 9, 367-73.
    doi: 10.1038/nchembio.1249PMID:23624439
  2. Caged mono- and divalent ligands for light-assisted disruption of PDZ domain-mediated interactions. Sainlos, M, Iskenderian-Epps, WS, Olivier, NB, Choquet, D, Imperiali, B. 2013. J Am Chem Soc 135, 4580-3.
    doi: 10.1021/ja309870qPMID:23480637
  3. Modular and tunable chemosensor scaffold for divalent zinc. Shults, MD, Pearce, DA, Imperiali, B. 2003. J Am Chem Soc 125, 10591-7.
    doi: 10.1021/ja0355980PMID:12940742
  4. Design of a monomeric 23-residue polypeptide with defined tertiary structure. Struthers, MD, Cheng, RP, Imperiali, B. 1996. Science 271, 342-5.
    doi: 10.1126/science.271.5247.342PMID:8553067

Recent Publications

  1. Strategies and Tactics for the Development of Selective Glycan-Binding Proteins. Ward, EM, Kizer, ME, Imperiali, B. 2021. ACS Chem Biol , .
    doi: 10.1021/acschembio.0c00880PMID:33497192
  2. Uridine natural products: Challenging targets and inspiration for novel small molecule inhibitors. Arbour, CA, Imperiali, B. 2020. Bioorg Med Chem 28, 115661.
    doi: 10.1016/j.bmc.2020.115661PMID:32828427
  3. Application of a gut-immune co-culture system for the study of N-glycan-dependent host-pathogen interactions of Campylobacter jejuni. Zamora, CY, Ward, EM, Kester, JC, Chen, WLK, Velazquez, JG, Griffith, LG, Imperiali, B. 2020. Glycobiology 30, 374-381.
    doi: 10.1093/glycob/cwz105PMID:31965157
  4. A Strategic Approach for Fluorescence Imaging of Membrane Proteins in a Native-like Environment. Swiecicki, JM, Santana, JT, Imperiali, B. 2020. Cell Chem Biol 27, 245-251.e3.
    doi: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2019.11.008PMID:31831268
  5. Deploying Fluorescent Nucleoside Analogues for High-Throughput Inhibitor Screening. Seebald, L, Madec, AGE, Imperiali, B. 2020. Chembiochem 21, 108-112.
    doi: 10.1002/cbic.201900671PMID:31709708
  6. Investigation of the conserved reentrant membrane helix in the monotopic phosphoglycosyl transferase superfamily supports key molecular interactions with polyprenol phosphate substrates. Entova, S, Guan, Z, Imperiali, B. 2019. Arch Biochem Biophys 675, 108111.
    doi: 10.1016/
  7. Bacterial carbohydrate diversity - a Brave New World. Imperiali, B. 2019. Curr Opin Chem Biol 53, 1-8.
    doi: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2019.04.026PMID:31176085
  8. Structural and mechanistic themes in glycoconjugate biosynthesis at membrane interfaces. Allen, KN, Imperiali, B. 2019. Curr Opin Struct Biol 59, 81-90.
    doi: 10.1016/
  9. Monotopic Membrane Proteins Join the Fold. Allen, KN, Entova, S, Ray, LC, Imperiali, B. 2019. Trends Biochem Sci 44, 7-20.
    doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2018.09.013PMID:30337134
  10. Insights into the key determinants of membrane protein topology enable the identification of new monotopic folds. Entova, S, Billod, JM, Swiecicki, JM, Martín-Santamaría, S, Imperiali, B. 2018. Elife 7, .
    doi: 10.7554/eLife.40889PMID:30168796
More Publications



Photo credit: Elizabeth Fong