McMaster scientist John Whitney receives biological chemistry award for cutting-edge research

Headshot of John Whitney against a grey backdrop

The Canadian Society of Chemistry's Melanie O’Neill Award, recognizes Whitney's study of the molecular mechanisms of antibacterial toxins.

The Canadian Society for Chemistry (CSC) is honouring McMaster scientist John Whitney with a New Investigator award in biological chemistry.

Whitney, an associate professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences’ department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences and a member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, will receive the 2024 Melanie O’Neill Award for his cutting-edge research into the molecular mechanisms of antibacterial toxins.

The award is presented to a scientist working in Canada who has made significant contributions to biological chemistry or biophysical methods during the early phases of their research career.

For Whitney, the honour reaffirms the significance of his research program.

“This CSC award is recognition of the importance of studying molecular structures and how they teach us new ways to kill bacteria,” he says.

“It is humbling to have our work acknowledged by the CSC, and I am grateful to the hardworking trainees in my group who conducted the research that led to this recognition.”

The award comes on the heels of important new research published by Whitney’s group, through which they discovered a barcode-like system that bacteria use to distinguish between beneficial and toxic molecules.

It is also the fifth major early-career award for Whitney, who received the Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences’ New Investigator Award in 2023, the ACS Infectious Diseases Young Investigator Award in 2022, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund’s prestigious Investigators in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease Award in 2021, and the Canadian Society of Microbiologists’ ThermoFisher Award in 2020.

Whitney will formally accept his latest honour — and deliver a special lecture — this spring at the 2024 Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition in Winnipeg.

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