Professor J. Bryan Jones

University Professor Emeritus - Biological, Organic Chemistry

Department of Chemistry
University of Toronto
80 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario
Canada, M5S 3H6

Office:    Lash Miller Laboratories, Room 603
Phone:     (416) 978-3589, (705) 652-0542


 Research Interests

My research lab is now closed and I am no longer taking on graduate students or postdoctoral fellows. However, my interest continues in enzymes as catalysts for asymmetric synthesis, and in bioorganic chemistry and biotechnology, and I remain on several Editorial and Scientific Advisory Boards.

Following our pioneering the use of enzymes as practical catalysts for asymmetric synthesis in the mid-1970s, our research progressed into several other new frontier areas. Our latest advances exploited a new strategy for the generation of new specificities or activities of enzymes by controlled chemical modifications of their mutants created at preselected positions by site-directed mutagenesis. We adopted this combined site-directed mutagenesis-chemical modification strategy since it offers virtually unlimited possibilities for creating new structural environments at any enzyme location. The results have been dramatic, as documented in the Recent Publications link below. Most excitingly, the approach opens up a totally new therapeutic strategy for an alternative, previously unexploited, enzymatic approach to selectively target and destroy proteins involved in diseases. Subsequently, novel carbohydrate aspects of this approach have been spectacularly extended at Oxford by a former postdoctoral fellow, Professor Ben Davis

For a personal video account of how our work on enzymes in organic synthesis developed, see

For the past several years I have been working on documenting the history and antique equipment of the Department. I have now just completed a catalogue of a comprehensive archive of the history of the Chemistry Department, from its establishment in 1843 to the present. This Catalogue includes key historical landmarks, together with a detailed listing of teaching materials and equipment used in the Department over the past 150 years. I have assembled a significant collection of antique equipment, all of which will eventually be available to qualified researchers in the History of Science, The earliest pieces to date are copies of the University of Toronto Honours Chemistry examinations for 1858 and a Becker's Sons (Rotterdam) balance made in ~1890. An electronic, key-word searchable, version of the catalogue is now accessible via a Quick Link from the Department of Chemistry home page A physical exhibit of a representative selection of papers and equipment is also planned for the Chemistry Lobby, so that students and visitors may view the rich heritage on which our current status as one of the world's outstanding Chemistry Departments was built.

In addition, I have created a collection of videos on the pioneering inventions made by our faculty whose research has opened up new fields, solved key problems, or has changed the way chemistry is done. I have called these videos our Departmental "FIRSTS". Instead of formal presentations of such work as in papers or lectures, these videos provide anecdotal narratives by the inventors of our pioneering "FIRSTS" relating informally how their cutting edge advancements came about in order to provide personal and human perspectives of the insights leading to the giant advances they and their students made, and the challenges and obstacles that they had to overcome. The first series of these videos is posted on the web via another Quick Link from the Department's home page The presentations included so far represent only the beginning, and more will be added in the future, especially as the Department's pioneering and frontier research continues and expands.

You might also find the links on the meanings of the alchemy symbols on the outer walls of the Lash Miller building, and on your academic family tree heritage, of interest. See the Quicklinks:

Lash Miller Alchemy Symbols:

Explore Your Academic Family Tree:


Recent Publications

Useful links and Resources

U of T Department of Chemistry Home Page

Last updated April 14, 2015 by Bryan Jones