John Honek's research seeks to understand the fundamental interactions of small molecules (such as substrates and drugs) with enzymes as well as the mechanisms by which enzymes catalyze reactions.
His research in this area includes mechanistic enzymology, recombinant DNA and biophysical methods as well as organic synthesis, medicinal chemistry and molecular modeling. An additional focus is in the area of bionanotechnology and the application of biological chemistry to the synthesis of new nanomaterials and nanostructures.
- Medicinal chemistry
- Bioorganic chemistry
- Protein structure and function
John Honek's group works at the interface of chemistry and biochemistry. They apply chemical and biochemical principles and techniques to the problems of protein structure/function as well as to elucidate the chemical mechanisms of several key enzymes, some of which have medical importance.
Organic chemistry (organic synthesis of novel biophysical probes and enzyme inhibitors and protein chemical modification techniques), physical chemistry and molecular modeling are being applied to complex protein structures. His group makes use of biochemical techniques such as recombinant DNA methodologies (PCR, site-directed mutagenesis, protein engineering, etc), microbiology (for protein expression) and protein purification.
John Honek teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses. Course offerings have included topics in biochemistry, molecular medicine, metabolism and enzymology.
Recent publications include
- Hu, Y., Honek, J. F., Wilson, B. C., & Lu, Q. B. (2019). Design, synthesis and photocytotoxicity of upconversion nanoparticles: Potential applications for near‐infrared photodynamic and photothermal therapy. Journal of biophotonics, 12(11), e201900129.
- Suttisansanee, U., & Honek, J. F. (2019). Preliminary Characterization of a Ni2+-Activated and Mycothiol-Dependent Glyoxalase I Enzyme from Streptomyces coelicolor. Inorganics, 7(8), 99.
- Honek, J. F. (2018) Editorial commentary on “Current Challenges in the Development of Vaccines and Drugs Against Emerging Vector-borne Diseases”. Current Medicinal Chemistry, in press. (INVITED)
- Honek, J. F. (2017) Nickel Glyoxalase I. Chapter 10 in The Biochemistry of Nickel (Royal Society of Chemistry; Edited by H. Kozłowski, D. Zamble, and M. Rowińska-Żyrek), (INVITED)
- Lu, M., Lu, Q-B., and Honek, J. F. (2017) Squarate-Based Carbocyclic Nucleosides: Syntheses, Computational Analyses and Anticancer/Antiviral Evaluation. Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters, 27, 282-287.
- Suttisansanee, U., and Honek, J. F. (2017) Hydroxamate Inhibitor Profiling of Both Zn2+- and Ni2+-Activated Glyoxalase I Metalloenzymes Having Diverse Quaternary Structures. Letters in Drug Design and Discovery, 14, 843-852.
- Urquhart, T., Daub, E., and Honek, J. F. (2016) Bioorthogonal Modification of the Major Sheath Protein of Bacteriophage M13: Extending the Versatility of Bionanomaterial Scaffolds. Bioconjugate Chemistry (ACS), 27, 2276-2280.
- Vaughan, M. D., Su, Z., Daub, E., and Honek, J. F. (2016) Intriguing Cellular Processing of a Fluorinated Amino Acid During Protein Biosynthesis in Escherichia coli. Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry, 14, 8942-8946.
Awards and Distinctions
- University of Waterloo Outstanding Performance Award, 2017
- Canadian Society for Chemistry Bernard Belleau Award, 2014
- Ron Brown Lectureship, Dept. of Chemistry, McGill University, 2010
- University of Waterloo Outstanding Performance Award, 2010
- University of Waterloo Outstanding Performance Award, 2004
- NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship, MIT, USA, 1984-85
- Quebec (FCAC) Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, MIT, USA, 1983-84
- NSERC Postgraduate Research Scholarships, McGill University, 1977-81
- Quebec Postgraduate Research Scholarship, McGill University, 1979-80
- McGill University Undergraduate Scholarships, 1973-77
University of Waterloo Affiliations
- Member of the Centre for Bioengineering and Biotechnology
- Member of the Institute of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
- Member of the Water Institute
- Member of the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology
- Member of the Waterloo Centre for Microbial Research
Professional Associations and Service
- Associate Member, Synthesis Sub-committee IUPAC Organic and Biomolecular Division III, 2013-present
- Consulting for 4th year nanoengineering and Velocity Science research project students that included input on their potential research projects, as well as potential student spinoff companies, 2013-present
- Board of Directors, Centre for Bioengineering & Biotechnology, UW, 2013-2016
- Scientific Advisory Board, Stem Cell & Cancer Research Institute (SCC-RI), McMaster University, 2012-2016
- Scientific Advisory Committee, Ontario Consortium for Regeneration Inducing Therapeutics (OCRiT), 2011-2016
- (GWC)2 Coordinating Committee, 1998-2014
- Chair, Department of Chemistry, University of Waterloo, 2007-14
- Nanotechnology Engineering Program Executive Board, 2007-14
- Chemistry Department and Nano Executive Committees, 2007-14
- Senate Honorary Degree Committee, 2009-10
- Executive Committee, Board of Governors, University of Waterloo, 2009-10
The following news story features John Honek's research:
January 6, 2014: Prof. John Honek wins national chemistry award
1984 Ph.D. Organic Medicinal Chemistry, McGill University, QC
1977 B.Sc. Honours Chemistry, McGill University, QC