Sep 28, 2022  
School of Graduate Studies Calendar, 2022-2023 
School of Graduate Studies Calendar, 2022-2023

Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Faculty of Science


Chemical Biology

The Chemical Biology Program provides opportunities and facilities for students intending to proceed to the M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees.

Chemical Biology utilizes chemical tools and techniques to answer biological questions. Students in the program will receive multi-disciplinary training at the interface between chemistry and biology. Working with faculty with broad-ranging expertise, students will learn skills in both the chemical and life-sciences areas, and appreciate how these complement each other to allow new insights into biological processes and systems.

The Chemical Biology program is administered by the Departments of Chemistry & Chemical Biology and Biochemistry & Biomedical Sciences and includes faculty members from the Departments of Biology, Physics & Astronomy, Medical Physics & Applied Radiation Sciences, Medicine and Molecular Medicine & Pathology. The program offers degrees at the M.Sc. and Ph.D. level.

Enquiries: 905 525-9140 Ext. 20874

Faculty / Fall 2022


Paul W. Ayers, B.Sc. (Lipscomb), Ph.D. (UNC Chapel Hill)
Paul J. Berti, B.Sc. (Waterloo), M.Sc. (Ottawa), Ph.D. (McGill)
Dawn Bowdish, B.Sc. (Guelph), Ph.D (British Columbia) 
John D. Brennan, B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D. (Toronto)
Philip Britz-McKibbin, B.Sc. (Toronto), Ph.D. (British Columbia)
Michael A. Brook, B.Sc., Ph.D. (McGill)
Eric D. Brown, B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D. (Guelph)
Lori Burrows, B.Sc., Ph.D. (Guelph)
Brian Coombes, B.Sc., Ph.D. (McMaster)
Marie Elliot, B.Sc., Ph.D. (Alberta)
Carlos Filipe, B.Sc. (Catholic Portuguese), Ph.D (Clemson)
Turlough M. Finan, M.Sc. (National), Ph.D. (Guelph)
Cecile Fradin, B.Sc., M.Sc. (École Normale Supérieure, Paris, France), Ph.D. (Univ. Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France)
Adam P. Hitchcock, B.Sc. (McMaster), Ph.D. (British Columbia), F.C.I.C.
Yingfu Li, B.Sc. (Anhui), M.Sc. (Beijing), Ph.D. (Simon Fraser)
James McNulty, B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D. (Toronto)
Giuseppe Melacini, B.Sc. (Milano), Ph.D. (Milano, U. California San Diego)
Bob Pelton, B.Sc., M.Sc. (Guelph), Ph.D. (Bristol)
Ralph Pudritz, B.Sc. (British Columbia), M.Sc. (Toronto), Ph.D. (British Columbia)
Maikel Rheinstadter, P.Phys B.Sc., M.Sc. and Ph.D. (Saarland)
Heather Sheardown, 
B. Eng (McMaster), Ph.D. (Toronto)
Bernardo L. Trigatti, B.Sc., Ph.D. (McMaster)
Ray Truant, B.Sc., Ph.D. (Toronto)
John F. Valliant, B.Sc., Ph.D. (McMaster)
Geoff Werstuck, B.Sc., Ph.D. (McMaster)
Gerard D. Wright, B.Sc., Ph.D. (Waterloo)
Jianping Xu, B.Sc. (Concordia), Ph.D. (Toronto)

Associate Professors

Russell Bishop, B.Sc., Ph.D. (Alberta)
Alfredo Capretta, B.Sc., Ph.D. (McMaster) / Director
Paul H.M. Harrison, B.A. Hons. (Oxford), Ph.D. (Alberta), M.C.I.C.
Nathan A. Magarvey, B.Sc. (Dalhousie), Ph.D. (Minnesota)
Jakob Magolan, B.Sc. (Queen’s), Ph.D. (Western Ontario)
Andrew G. McArthur.  HBSc. (Western Ontario), Ph.D. (Victoria) 
Jose M. Moran-Mirabal, B.Sc., M.Sc. (TESM, Mexico), Ph.D. (Cornell)
Ishac Nazy, B. Sc. (Guelph, McMaster), Ph.D. (McMaster)
Saman Sadeghi, B.Sc., Ph.D (Toronto)
Ryan Wylie, B.Sc. (Concorida),Ph.D. (Toronto)

Assistant Professors

Sara Andres, M.Sc (Guelph), Ph.D. (McMaster)
Katherine Bujold, B.Sc., Ph.D. (McGill)
Joseph Okeme., B.Sc (Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta), M.Sc. (Robert Gordon), Ph.D. (Toronto) 
Anthony F. Rullo, B.Sc. (McMaster), M.Sc (Guelph) Ph.D. (Toronto)
Jennifer Stearns, B.Sc., Ph.D. (Waterloo)
John Whitney, B.Sc (Guelph), Ph.D. (Toronto)

Professor Emeritus

Richard M. Epand, A.B. (Johns Hopkins), Ph.D. (Columbia)

Admission into the Program

Students entering the Chemical Biology program may be admitted from a number of suitable undergraduate degrees (including the Life Sciences, Chemistry and Biophysics). Students with undergraduate degrees in other disciplines are also encouraged to apply although the Director of the Chemical Biology Program, in conjunction with the Admissions Committee, will be required to judge the candidate’s suitability. A minimum B+ average (equivalent to 8.5/12) in the final two years of a four-year undergraduate degree is required for admission into our M.Sc. program. Students holding a B.Sc. with a minimum A- average (10.0/12) or already holding a M. Sc. degree may be admitted directly into our Ph.D. program but are required to pass a qualifying exam in the first year of study and a comprehensive examination in the second year of study.

Research in Chemical Biology

The Chemical Biology Program focuses its resources on understanding the role that biomolecular interactions play in the control of biological function. Research carried out by faculty members in the program centers on: examining the biological significance of biomolecular complexes and interactions and their role in biochemical regulation and control of biochemical pathways; the development and use of small molecules to probe biological function; and the development and use of physiocochemical, computational and high throughput assay methods for studying biological systems.

The research interests of current faculty members include: theoretical chemistry and electronic structure theory (P.W. Ayers); transition state analysis in biochemical systems (P.J. Berti); Biogenesis of the gram-negative cell envelope (R. Bishop); roll of the macrophage scavenger receptors in host defence (D.M.E. Bowdish); high-throughput fluorescence and mass spectrometric assay methods (J.D. Brennan); bioanalytical chemistry, metabolomics, cellulomics (P. Britz-McKibbin); silicon-based biomaterials (M.A. Brook); novel therapeutic targets in antibacterial research (E.D. Brown); Bacterial adhesions and bio-film formation (L. Burrows); organic and medicinal chemistry, drug discovery (F. Capretta); Microbiological biochemistry and antimicrobial research, cell biology and gene regulation (B. Coombes); bioinformatics and functional genomics, microbiology and plant biology (M. Elliot); relationship between membrane properties and biological function (R.M. Epand); microbial genetics and genomics of soil microorganisms (T. Finan); dynamics of single molecules inside biological systems (C. Fradin); structural and functional studies of DNA mismatch repair proteins and DNA segregation proteins (A. Guarne); bio-organic chemistry and biosynthesis (P.H.M. Harrison); analysis of bulk and surfaces using electron beam and synchrotron radiation based spectroscopies and microscopes (A.P. Hitchcock); molecular evolution of functional nucleic acids (Y. Li); natural product biosynthesis & drug discovery, metabolomics, small molecule/chemical signalling (N. Magarvey); bioinformatics, functional genomics, and computational biology (A. McArthur); organic synthesis, chemical biology, anticancer drugs (J. McNulty); biological NMR, protein structure and dynamics, biomolecular interactions (G. Melacini); bacteria as multicellular organisms (Jose M. Moran-Mirabal); bioanalytical chemistry, protein quality control systems, electron microscopy studies of the HtrA family of proteases (J. Ortega); targeted genetic approaches to studying lipid transport and its role in complex disease (B.L. Trigatti); polyglutamine expansion diseases (R. Truant); medical applications of radioisotopes (J. Valliant); Diabetes mellitus; cardiovascular disease (G. Werstuck); microbiological biochemistry and antimicrobial research (G.D. Wright); A more detailed description of current research projects for each faculty member and a list of their recent publications are available on individual websites.

Facilities for Research

Acquisitions funded by both the provincial and federal governments have provided state-of-the-art facilities for research in chemical biology and include the Centre for Microbial Chemical Biology (; the McMaster Biophotonics and Imaging Facility (; the Biointerface Institute (; the Magnetic Resonance Facility, the Regional Centre for Mass Spectrometry, and the Single Crystal X-ray Facility in addition to protein preparation and purification facilities, cell culture facilities, computational facilities and extensive optical spectroscopy resources. More information about our research facilities is available on individual departmental websites.




The Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology provides facilities for students intending to proceed to the M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees as described in the information below. The Department is also a participant in the interdisciplinary graduate program in Chemical Biology described earlier in this section of the Calendar.

Enquiries: 905 525-9140 Ext. 23489
Fax: 905 522-2509


Faculty / Fall 2022


Alex Adronov/B.Sc. (McMaster), Ph.D. (California-Berkeley)
Paul W. Ayers/B.Sc. (David Lipscomb), Ph.D. (North Carolina-Chapel Hill)/Canada Research Chair in Theoretical Chemistry, F.R.S.C./Undergraduate Advisor
Paul J. Berti/B.Sc. (Waterloo), M.Sc. (Ottawa), Ph.D. (McGill)
John D. Brennan/B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D. (Toronto)/Canada Research Chair in Bioanalytical Chemistry
Philip Britz-McKibbin/B.Sc. (Toronto), Ph.D. (British Columbia)
Michael A. Brook/B.Sc. (Toronto), Ph.D. (McGill)
David J.H. Emslie/B.Sc., Ph.D. (Bristol)
Gillian R. Goward/B.Sc. (McMaster), Ph.D. (Waterloo)
Peter Kruse/Dipl. Chem. (FSU-Jena), Ph.D. (California-San Diego)
Yingfu Li/(Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences) B.Sc. (Anhui, China), M.Sc. (Beijing Agr.), Ph.D. (Simon Fraser)
Jim McNulty/B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D. (Toronto)
Giuseppe Melacini/B.Sc., Ph.D. (Milan)
Jose M. Moran-Mirabal/B.Sc., M.Sc. (ITESM-Monterrey, Mexico), Ph.D. (Cornell)
Yurij Mozharivskyj/B.Sc., M.Sc. (Lviv State), Ph.D. (Iowa State)
Kalaichelvi Saravanamuttu/B.Sc., Ph.D. (McGill)
Gary J. Schrobilgen/B.Sc. (Loras College, Iowa), M.Sc. (Brock), Ph.D. (McMaster), F.R.S.C., A.C.S.F.
Harald D.H. Stöver/B.Sc. (Darmstadt), Ph.D. (Ottawa)
John F. Valliant/B.Sc., Ph.D. (McMaster)
Ignacio Vargas-Baca/B.Sc., M.Sc. (UNAM), Ph.D. (Calgary)

Associate Professors

Alfredo Capretta/B.Sc., Ph.D. (McMaster)
Randall S. Dumont/B.Sc. (Western Ontario), Ph.D. (Toronto)
Paul H.M. Harrison/B.A. (Oxford), Ph.D. (Alberta)
Philippa Lock/B.Sc., Ph.D. (McMaster)
Nathan A. Magarvey/(Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences) B.Sc. (Dalhousie), Ph.D. (Minnesota)
Saman Sadeghi/B.Sc., Ph.D. (Toronto)
Ryan Wylie/B.Sc. (Concordia), Ph.D. (Toronto)

Assistant Professors

Katherine Bujold/B.Sc., Ph.D. (McGill)
Lydia Chen/B.Sc. (British Columbia), Ph.D. (Alberta)
Anthony Chibba/B.Sc., Ph.D. (Toronto)
Sharonna Greenberg/B.Sc., Ph.D. (Toronto)
Joseph Okeme/B.Sc. (Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta), M.Sc. (Robert Gordon), Ph.D. (Toronto)
Sarah Styler/B.Sc., Ph.D. (Toronto)

Associate Members

Dawn Bowdish (Biochemistry), B.Sc. (Guelph), Ph.D. (British Columbia)
Todd Hoare/(Chemical Engineering) B.Sc. (Queen’s), Ph.D. (McMaster)
Jakob Magolan (Biochemistry), B.Sc. (Queen’s), Ph.D. (Western Ontario)
Anthony F. Rullo (Pathology), B.Sc. (McMaster), M.Sc. (Guelph), Ph.D. (Toronto)
Gregory F. Slater (Geography), B.Sc. (McMaster), M.Sc. , Ph.D. (Toronto)

Professors Emeriti

Jacques Barbier, Dipl. Ing. Chimiste (Paris), M.Sc. (Toronto), Ph.D. (A.N.U.)
Ronald F. Childs, B.Sc. (Bath University of Technology), Ph.D., D.Sc.(Nottingham), F.C.I.C.
Peter T. Dawson, B.Sc. (Birmingham), Ph.D. (Cambridge)
Ronald J. Gillespie, B.Sc., Ph.D., D.Sc. (London), F.R.S., F.R.S.C.,F.R.S.C. (U.K.), F.C.I.C.
John E. Greedan, B.A. (Bucknell), Ph.D. (Tufts), F.C.I.C. (Research Active)
Adam P. Hitchcock, B.Sc. (McMaster), Ph.D. (British Columbia),F.R.S.C., F.C.I.C. / Senior Canada Research Chair
David A. Humphreys, B.Sc., M.Sc. (London), Ph.D. (McMaster),F.C.I.C.
Joseph D. Laposa, B.Sc. (St. Louis), M.S. (Chicago), Ph.D. (Loyola)
William J. Leigh, B.Sc., Ph.D. (Western), F.C.I.C.
Michael J. McGlinchey, B.Sc., Ph.D. (Manchester), F.C.I.C.
Ian D. Spenser, B.Sc. (Birmingham), Ph.D., D.Sc. (London, McMaster), F.R.S.C., F.R.S.C. (U.K.), F.R.I.C., F.C.I.C.
Johan K. Terlouw, B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D. (Utrecht)
Nick H. Werstiuk, B.Sc. (Alberta), M.A., Ph.D. (Johns Hopkins),F.C.I.C.

Departmental Colloquia and Seminars

‘The departmental colloquium program is a mandatory component for both M.Sc. and direct-entry Ph.D. students., designed to provide students with the opportunity to develop scientific presentation and critical thinking skills. All students must present a colloquium describing their own research during the second year of graduate studies. Colloquium presenters are expected to provide detailed, professional presentations of their research progress. Attendance at departmental colloquia is expected from all graduate students, and is mandatory for M.Sc. students and direct-entry Ph.D. students. Students attending the colloquia are expected to ask critical questions of the presenter.

Attendance at departmental seminars is expected of all students within the department. These seminars comprise a combination of externally invited speakers, faculty members from McMaster, and senior Ph.D. students who are nearing the Ph.D. defence.

Research in Chemistry

The Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology provides opportunities for research in a broad range of fundamental and applied research topics in six fields of Chemistry: Analytical and Environmental, Biological, Inorganic, Materials, Organic, Physical and Theoretical.

The research interests of current faculty members include: polymer chemistry of carbon nanotubes and dendrimer-based therapeutics (A. Adronov); computational chemistry, quantum chemistry and electronic structure theory (P.W. Ayers); transition state analysis and enzyme inhibition (P.J. Berti); point-of-care diagnostics and functional nucleic acids (J.D. Brennan); bioanalytical chemistry, metabolomics, exposomics (P. Britz-McKibbin); sustainable silicon chemistry, silicone polymers and biomaterials (M.A. Brook); DNA nanotechnology, supramolecular DNA assembly, spherical nucleic acids (K. Bujold), organic and medicinal chemistry, drug discovery (A. Capretta); relativistic quantum dynamics, quantum molecular dynamics (R.S. Dumont); organometallic and coordination chemistry, molecular inorganic synthesis, ligand design, catalysis, atomic layer deposition (D.J.H. Emslie); magnetic resonance spectroscopy and imaging of materials for alternative energy storage & conversion, lithium ion batteries & fuel cells (G.R. Goward); natural products, bio-organic chemistry and biosynthesis (P.H.M. Harrison); surfaces, interface and low-dimensional materials (P. Kruse); organic synthesis, medicinal chemistry, natural products, organocatalysis, transition-metal catalysis (J. McNulty); Molecular pharmacology; protein dynamics (G. Melacini); micro- and nanostructured materials fabrication and applications, nanocellulose surface chemistry, 3D printing, biosensors, super-resolution fluorescence microscopy, biomolecular interactions (J.M. Moran-Mirabal); thermoelectric materials, inorganic phosphors for temperature sensing (Y. Mozharivskyj); environmental factors in human/ecosystem health (J. Okeme); molecular imaging, radiolabeling, radiotherapeutics (S. Sadeghi); sol-gel chemistry, self-assembly, photonics and photo-induced transformations (K. Saravanamuttu); functional polymers, colloids and microspheres (H.D.H. Stöver); atmospheric and environmental chemistry (S. Styler); medicinal inorganic and radiopharmaceutical chemistry (J.F. Valliant); supramolecular main-group chemistry, new materials and functional multimolecular assemblies (I. Vargas-Baca), delivery vehicles, controlled release, immunotherapeutics, immune-directing polymer coatings (R.G. Wylie).

Course outlines for all graduate modules are available on the departmental website (

Research in Chemical Biology

This interdisciplinary area of research is jointly supported by the Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Biochemistry & Biomedical Sciences and Biology. It is described earlier in this section of the Calendar.

Research in Chemical Physics

This interdisciplinary area of research is jointly supported by the Departments of Chemistry and Physics & Astronomy. It is described in the Interdisciplinary  section of the Calendar.

Facilities for Research

The Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology maintains four excellent research facilities with instruments that are available to all graduate students and researchers: the Magnetic Resonance Facility, the Regional Centre for Mass Spectrometry, and the McMaster Analytical X-ray (MAX) Diffraction Facility. In addition, individual faculty maintain a wide variety of minor research equipment in their own laboratories. Members of the Department also have access to a well-equipped machine shop, and a student machine shop for do-it-yourself projects.

The Magnetic Resonance Facility houses six instruments including 850 MHz, 700 MHz (x2), 600 MHz, 500 MHz , and 200 MHz spectrometers with a variety of probes for solid and liquid samples at variable temperature. Both 700 MHz NMR spectrometers are equipped with cryoprobes for a six-fold increase in sensitivity. Students are trained to record their own NMR data, and all McMaster students and staff may use one of the BrukerTopSpin software licenses to process the NMR data on their own computer. The McMaster Regional Centre for Mass Spectrometry houses six instruments covering a wide range of ionization sources (EI, CI, MALDI and ESI) and mass measurement techniques (sector, triple quadruple and time-of-flight), as well as GCMS and LCMS instrumentation. The McMaster Analytical X-ray (MAX) Diffraction Facility houses one Bruker SMART APEX2 system with a Mo sealed-tube source and low (88 K) - high (370 K) temperature capability; one Bruker SMART6000 system with a Rigaku Cu rotatinganode source; one Stoe Image Plate system with a Mo sealed-tube source, a RigakuRAXIS-IV++ image plate protein diffractometer with focused Osmic optics, and a Bruker D8 Discover 2D powder diffractometer with a Vantec500 area detector (and optional point detector), three sample rotation axes, Co and Cu sources, RT to 900C sample chamber, and an x-y mapping stage . There are also two high- and low-resolution Cu powder diffractometers plus one PANalyticalX’Pert system with monochromatic Cu Ka1 and Co sealed-tube sources. The X-ray Facility is run from a user friendly control room, so students can participate in or run their own structural analyses. 

A number of faculty in the Department are members of the Brockhouse Institute for Materials Research and, as such, have access to the extensive instrument facilities in that institute. They include the Canadian Centre for Electron Microscopy (high-resolution transmission and scanning electron microscopes, plus a scanning tunneling microscope and two atomic force microscopes), the Thermal Analysis laboratory, the Crystal Growth facility and the Materials Preparation facility. More information is available on the BIMR website ( Several faculty in the Department (Hitchcock, Kruse, Stöver, Britten) are also active users of the Canadian Light Source Synchrotron Facilities in Saskatoon.

More information and a downloadable brochure about our research facilities, as well as virtual tours, are available on our departmental website (


    MasterDoctoralCourse Offerings

    Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Faculty of Science