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John C Vederas, BSc, PhD, FRSC, FRS

University Professor



About Me

B.Sc. Chemistry - Stanford University

Ph.D. Organic Chemistry - Massachusetts Institute of Technology - Prof. George H. Büchi

Postdoctoral Fellow - Institut für Organische Chemie - Universität Basel - Prof. Christoph Tamm

Postdoctoral Fellow  - Dept. Medicinal Chemistry - Purdue University - Prof. Heinz G. Floss

Elected Fellow Royal Society of Canada - 1997

Chemical Institute of Canada Medal - 2008

Elected Fellow Royal Society (FRS, London) - 2009

Elected Member American Academy of Microbiology - 2014

Senior Fellow Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (Molecular Architecture of Life) - 2016

For list of additional awards and appointments, please see

John Vederas is the author of over 340 research publications, 4 books and 23 issued patents. Thus far he has had 65 Ph.D. students, 9 M.Sc. students, >70 postdoctoral fellows and >70 undergraduates complete research in his group. His current group is 9 Ph.D. students and 3 postdoctoral fellows.


Understanding the chemistry by which Nature assembles biological molecules is not only an exciting intellectual endeavour, but is also a prerequisite to rationally influence life processes in medicine and agriculture. Our research currently centers on the formation of important biological molecules, including antimicrobial peptides, amino acid metabolites, and polyketides. The approach is interdisciplinary. Experimental aspects of our projects encompass organic synthesis and spectroscopic methodology (especially NMR and mass spectrometry), as well as isotopic techniques, natural products isolation, enzymatic reactions, and culturing of microorganisms. Current projects include:

  • Investigation of the three dimensional structure, mechanism of action, formation and applications of bacteriocins from lactic acid bacteria. These antimicrobial peptides (37-56 amino acids) are non-toxic to mammals, naturally preserve food, and may be useful for treatment of gastrointestinal diseases.
  • Examination of the mechanism of polyketide biosynthesis in fungi, especially formation of lovastatin (a widely-prescribed cholesterol-lowering drug) and generation of biologically active macrolides
  • Construction of structurally modified neuropeptide hormones and their antagonists to provide improved activity and stability. These compounds influence a host of biological processes including lactation, childbirth, pain, appetite, pigmentation, pheromone biosynthesis and embryonic development.
  • Understanding and duplicating the mechanisms of unusual enzymes, especially amino acid epimerases and hydroxylases (e.g. P450 and ketoglutarate dependent oxygenases).