Sponsored by the CSC Biological and Medicinal Chemistry Division of the CSC and Simon Fraser University

The Melanie O’Neill New Investigator Award is presented to a scientist residing in Canada who has made a distinguished contribution to biological chemistry or biophysical methods.

View the Terms of Reference and list of Past Winners

The 2024 winner of the Melanie O’Neill New Investigator Award in Biological Chemistry is:

John Cameron Cole Whitney
McMaster University
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Dr. John Whitney is an emerging leader in the molecular characterization of antibacterial toxins produced by bacteria. Dr. Whitney’s lab uses molecular approaches to gain a mechanistic understanding of how antibacterial toxins are secreted from bacteria, how they enter target bacterial cells, and how they exert their bactericidal effects.

Dr. Whitney received his BSc in Biological Chemistry from the University of Guelph followed by his PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Toronto. Dr. Whitney then conducted a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington before establishing his lab in the Department of Biochemistry at McMaster in 2017. Dr. Whitney is the recipient of several research awards including the Early Career Award from the Canadian Society of Microbiologists (2020), a Young Investigator Award from the American Chemical Society (2022), and a New Investigator Award from the Canadian Society of Molecular Biosciences (2023).

Notable discoveries by Dr. Whitney’s Lab include determining how antibacterial toxins are exported from Gram-positive bacteria (Structure, 2021 and PNAS, 2023), the discovery of an antibacterial ADP-ribosyltransferase toxin with unprecedented activity towards RNA (Molecular Cell, 2022), and uncovering a physiological role for the pyrophosphorylated nucleotides ppApp and pppApp as energy-depleting metabolites (Nature, 2019 and PNAS, 2023).


Past Winners


Ryan Hili, MCIC

York University
Society: CSC

Matthew Macauley, MCIC

University of Alberta
Society: CSC

Roberto Chica

University of Ottawa
Society: CSC

Ratmir Derda

University of Alberta
Society: CSC

Katherine Ryan

University of British Columbia
Society: CSC