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 and Delivery
  • Biomaterials, Polymers and Bioplastics
  • Biochemistry and Biophysics
  • Bionanotechnology and Biosensors
  • Soft Matter
  • Smart and Functional Materials
  • Molecular Therapeutics and Theranostics
  • Nanomaterials
  • Microbiology

Scholarly Research


  • 1984, PhD, Chemistry, McGill University, Canada
  • 1977, BSc, Honours Chemistry, McGill University, Canada


  • 2017, Outstanding Performance Award, University of Waterloo
  • 2014, Bernard Belleau Award, Canadian Society for Chemistry, McGill University
  • 2010, Outstanding Performance Award, University of Waterloo
  • 2010, Ron Brown Lectureship, Department 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


  • 2013-present, 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
  • 2013-2016, Board of Directors, Centre for Bioengineering & Biotechnology, University of Waterloo
  • 2012-2016, Scientific Advisory Board, Stem Cell & Cancer Research Institute (SCC-RI), McMaster University
  • 2011-2016, Scientific Advisory Committee, Ontario Consortium for Regeneration Inducing Therapeutics (OCRiT)
  • 2007-2014, Chair, Department of Chemistry, University of Waterloo
  • 2007-2014, Department of Chemistry and Nano Executive Committees
  • 2007-2014, Nanotechnology Engineering Program Executive Board
  • 1998-2014, (GWC)2 Coordinating Committee
  • 2009-2010, Executive Committee, Board of Governors, University of Waterloo
  • 2009-2010, Senate Honorary Degree Committee

Affiliations and Volunteer Work

  • Member, Centre for Bioengineering and Biotechnology
  • Member, Institute of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
  • Member, The Water Institute
  • Member, Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology
  • Member, Waterloo Centre for Microbial Research


  • CHEM 233 - Fundamentals of Biochemistry
    • Taught in 2020, 2022, 2024
  • CHEM 237 - Introductory Biochemistry
    • Taught in 2024
  • CHEM 430 - Special Topics in Biochemistry
    • Taught in 2022, 2024
  • 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.