John Honek

John Honek
Location: ESC 246
Phone: 519-888-4567 x35817


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.

Research Interests

  • Bionanomaterials
  • Medicinal chemistry
  • Enzymology
  • Bioorganic chemistry
  • Protein structure and function
  • Drug Discovery, Design & Delivery
  • Biomaterials and Polymers
  • Biochemistry and Biophysics
  • Bionanotechnolgy and Biosensors
  • Soft Matter
  • Smart and Functional Materials
  • Molecular Therapeutics and Theranostics
  • Nanomaterials
  • Novel Drug Discovery and Delivery


  • 1984, Doctorate Chemistry, McGill University, Canada
  • 1977, Bachelor of Science (BSc) Honours Chemistry, McGill University, Canada


  • 2017 Outstanding Performance Award, University of Waterloo
  • 2014 Bernard Belleau Award, Canadian Society for Chemistry1973 McGill University
  • 2010 Outstanding Performance Award, University of Waterloo
  • 2010 Ron Brown Lectureship, Dept. of Chemistry, McGill University
  • 2004 Outstanding Performance Award, University of Waterloo
  • 1984 NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
  • 1983 Quebec (FCAC) Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Province of Quebec (FCAC)
  • 1979 Quebec Postgraduate Research Scholarship, Province of Quebec
  • 1977 NSERC Postgraduate Research Scholarships, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada


  • 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
  • Memberships in University of Waterloo centres and institutes: Centre for Bioengineering and Biotechnology, Institute of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, the Water Institute, Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology, and Waterloo Centre for Microbial Research


  • CHEM 233 - Fundamentals of Biochemistry
    • Taught in 2020, 2022
  • CHEM 430 - Special Topics in Biochemistry
    • Taught in 2022
  • CHEM 433 - Advanced Biochemistry
    • Taught in 2020, 2021, 2022
  • CHEM 737 - Enzymes
    • Taught in 2021

* Only courses taught in the past 5 years are displayed.

Selected/Recent Publications

  • T. Jenkins, B. Persaud, W. Cowger, K. Szigeti, D. G. Roche, E. Clary, S. Slowinski, B. Lei, A. Abeynayaka, E. S. Nyadjro, T. Maes, L. Thornton Hampton, M. Bergmann, J. Aherne, S. A. Mason, J. Honek, F. Rezanezhad, A. Lusher, A. M. Booth, R. D. L. Smith, P. Van Cappellen, 2022, Current State of Microplastic Pollution Research Data: Trends in Availability and Sources of Open Data. Frontiers in Environmental Science in press
  • F. Yang, A. Cholewinski, J. Honek, W. Wei, L. Xu, W. Zhang, M. Pope, and B. Zhao, 2022, Imparting Conformational Memory for Material Adhesion. Materials Horizon (RSC) 9, 675-687.
  • C. Ieritano, D. Rickert, J. Featherstone, J. Honek, L. Campbell, Y. J. C. Le Blanc, B. Schneider, and W. Hopkins, 2021, The Charge-State and Structural Stability of Peptides Conferred by Microsolvating Environments in Differential Mobility Spectrometry. Journal of the American Society of Mass Spectrometry, 32(4), 956-968.
  • J. F. Honek, 2021, Aeruginolysin in Handbook of Proteolytic Enzymes 4th Edition. Rawlings, N. D. and Salvesen, G. Eds., Elsevier Limited, in press.
  • T. Urquhart, B. Howie, L. Zhang, K. T. Leung, and J. F. Honek, 2021, Bioconjugation of Bacteriophage Pf1 and Extension to Pf1-Based Bionanomaterials. Current Nanoscience, 17(1), 139-150 (Open Access)
  • U. Suttisansanee and J. F. Honek, 2019, Preliminary Characterization of a Ni2+-Activated and Mycothiol-dependent Glyoxalase I Enzyme from Streptomyces coelicolor. Inorganics (Special Issue: Bioinorganic Chemistry of Nickel), 7(8), 99. (Open Access)
  • Y. Hu, J. F. Honek, B. C. Wilson and Q-B. Lu, 2019, Synthesis and Photo-Cytotoxicity of Upconversion Nanoparticles: Potential Applications for Near-Infrared Photodynamic and Photothermal Therapy. Journal of Biophotonics, 12(11), e201900111.
  • J. F. Honek, 2019, Commentary on “Current Challenges in the Development of Vaccines and Drugs Against Emerging Vector-borne Diseases” by Professor Kwang-sun Kim, Pusan National University, Republic of Korea. Current Medicinal Chemistry, 26, 3201-3204. (Open Access)
  • 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.

Graduate Studies