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John-Stephen Taylor

John-Stephen Taylor


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John-Stephen Taylor is Professor of Chemistry at Washington University in Saint Louis. He received an BS in Chemistry from MIT in 1976, and a PhD in Organic Chemistry from Columbia University in 1981 working on the total synthesis of natural products with the late Gilbert Stork. He then carried out postdoctoral research with Peter Dervan at Caltech working on the design and synthesis of sequence-specific DNA-cleaving agents before starting his career at Washington University.

His main research focus for over 30 years has been on unraveling the molecular pathway from sunlight to the mutations associated with skin cancer. He discovered the structure of the Dewar photoproduct, synthesized the first building block for the incorporation of the major photoproduct of DNA into oligodeoxynucleotides by automated synthesis for structural, repair, replication and mutagenesis studies, leading to a mechanism for the origin of DNA signature mutations.

Most recently he has been studying photoproduct formation and deamination in nucleosomes and in DNA quadruplexes. He has also developed photocaged DNA, nucleic acid-triggered fluorogenic probes for detecting and imaging gene expression in cells, and nucleic acid-directed self-assembling gold nanoparticles. His work has resulted in 145 publications.

He has taught organic chemistry lecture and lab courses, organic spectroscopy, and developed a course on nucleic acids using jmol tutorials. He is a Councilor for the American Society of Photobiology, and also has been serving as the coordinator for the ACS Saint Louis Award (2015-date), which he was awarded in 1993. He also enjoys cooking, wine, traveling, photography, computers, and walking his golden retriever, and has recently started on woodworking.