Professor, Chemistry

Research interests: bionanotechnology, mechanistic enzymology; recombinant DNA and biophysical methods; medicinal chemistry and molecular modeling


Professor John Honek developed novel amino acid analogs used to investigate protein structure/function and control metalloenzyme activity and uniquely applies biological chemistry to areas of nanotechnology such as bioencapsulation and biomaterial interfaces.

The Honek Lab, operating within the University of Waterloo Chemistry department, works at the interface of chemistry and biochemistry. Group members 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.

Honek received his BSc (Honours Chemistry) from McGill University in 1977, and obtained his PhD (Chemistry) in 1984 also from McGill University under the direction of the late Professor Bernard Belleau, one of the discoverers of the anti-AIDS drug 3TC. Honek took up FCAC (Québec) and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Postdoctoral Fellowships to continue his studies (1984, 1985) under the direction of Professor Christopher Walsh at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), U.S.A., where he worked on the biochemistry of biogenic methane production. Honek joined the University of Waterloo Chemistry department in 1986 and held the role of Chemistry Department Chair from 2007 to 2014.

Professor Honek is on the editorial board of several journals including:

  • Molecules; Letters in Drug Design and Discovery, Current Medicinal Chemistry, Frontiers in Chemistry (Chemical Biology), Future Medicinal Chemistry, Biochemistry and Cell Biology (NRC)
  • Canadian Representative to the Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry Division, Synthesis Subcommittee, IUPAC

Cross-appointed to UW Pharmacy


  • Postdoctoral Fellow: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • PhD, Chemistry, McGill University, 1984

  • BSc, Chemistry, McGill University, 1977

John Honek

    University of Waterloo