Mark Lautens was born in Hamilton, Ont. He attended the University of Guelph where he worked with G.L. Lange and P.M. Henry. He also spent a summer at Xerox Research Centre of Canada. In 1981 he entered the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he obtained a PhD with Barry M. Trost in 1985 following studies on molybdenum catalyzed alkylations and the palladium enyne reaction. He conducted postdoctoral studies at Harvard with D.A. Evans on a total synthesis of bryostatin. All were supported by NSERC.
In 1987 he was appointed at University of Toronto as an NSERC URF assistant professor and was promoted to professor in 1995. Since 1998 he has held the AstraZeneca Chair in organic synthesis. From 2003–2013 he has held an NSERC/Merck Frosst Industrial Research Chair on “New Medicinal Agents via Catalytic Reactions.” In 2012 he was appointed as “University Professor” the highest rank awarded at the University of Toronto. In 2013 he was appointed as J. Bryan Jones Distinguished Professor.
He has been selected for various national and international awards including an A.P. Sloan Fellow, Eli Lilly Grantee, A.C. Cope Scholar, Pedler Award, Alexander von Humbolt Award, Solvias Prize, Alfred Bader Award, R.U. Lemieux Award, E.W.R. Steacie Award, BioMega Young Investigator and Merck Frosst Award. In 2001 he was elected to the Royal Society of Canada.
He is an enthusiastic parent, skier, squash player and sometimes runner and fitness fan.