101 Theory, Room 153
John Chaput is Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chemistry, and Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). He graduated in 1994 from Creighton University with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and earned his Ph.D. in 2000 from the University of California, Riverside. For his Ph.D. thesis, he studied the molecular recognition properties of unnatural nucleic acid polymers. Under the guidance of Chris Switzer, he designed, built, and characterized the first five-stranded DNA helix that self-assembles around a metal-nucleated iso-guanine motif. From 2000-2004, he was an HHMI Post-Doctoral Fellow in Prof. Jack Szostak’s laboratory at Harvard Medical School. While at Harvard, he studied the de novo evolution of functional proteins by mRNA display and developed early methods for synthesizing artificial genetic polymers using commercial polymerases. In 2005, he began his independent academic career as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Arizona State University (ASU). He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2011 and Full Professor in 2014. From 2005 to 2015, he was a core faculty member of the Biodesign Institute at ASU, and from 2011-2014 served as Deputy Director of the Center for Evolutionary Medicine and Informatics (CEMI). In 2015, he moved his laboratory to UCI, where he develops enzymes that can manipulate artificial genetic polymers (commonly referred to as XNAs) in a manner analogous to the enzymes provided by nature. The overarching goal of his research is to develop the next generation of diagnostic and therapeutic agents using XNAs that are biologically stable and responsive to Darwinian evolution. In 2018, he was elected a AAAS Fellow for distinguished contributions to the field of chemical biology, particularly for the development of engineered polymerases that enable the evolution of artificial genetic polymers.