Joseph Jez

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Joseph Jez
CitizenshipUnited States
Alma materUniversity of Pennsylvania
Scientific career
FieldsChemical biology
InstitutionsUniversity of British Columbia
ThesisSteroid Recognition and Engineering of Catalysis in Mammalian Aldo-Keto Reductases
Doctoral advisorTrevor M. Penning

Joseph Jez is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor and Spencer T. Olin Professor of Biology at Washington University in St. Louis. He has also served as the Chair of the Washington University Biology Department since 2018. His research focuses on the effect of environmental changes on biochemical pathways in plants, aiming to apply this research to present-day agricultural and environmental issues.[1]

Education and career

Joseph Jez attended Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pennsylvania for his undergraduate studies. At Pennsylvania State University, he obtained a B.S. in Biochemistry and a minor in English, graduating with honors in 1992.[2] He later obtained a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at the University of Pennsylvania in 1998. At the University of Pennsylvania, he conducted research under Professor Trevor M. Penning. His thesis was titled, "Steroid Recognition and Engineering of Catalysis in Mammalian Aldo-keto reductase Reductases." Jez served as a postdoctoral research fellow from 1998 to 2001 at The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, where he studied the structure, mechanisms, and engineering of plant polyketide biosynthesis.[2]

From 2002 to 2010, Jez served as both an Assistant Member and Principal investigator at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, Missouri. Currently, Jez is a Spencer T. Olin Professor of Biology at Washington University in St. Louis. He was named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor in 2014. At the Washington University, he established the Biotech Explorers Pathway program, which is a two-year academic program for undergraduate students interested in the interconnections of science, business, technology, and engineering.[3] He also teaches an upper-level biochemistry laboratory course for undergraduate students interested in conducting research at a more advanced level.[3]

Research focus

Jez currently conducts research on the effect of environmental changes on the biochemical pathway of plants with the aim to produce engineered systems that will address present-day agricultural and environmental problems.[1] His laboratory uses x-ray crystallography, enzymology, molecular biology, proteomics, and plant biology. His research is centered around three general ideas: metabolic regulation and environmental responses in plants, enzymatic control of plant hormone responses, and the use of Caenorhabditis elegans to study new metabolic pathways in Nematode.[1]

Awards and recognition

Societies and Academies:[2]

  • Faculty of 1000 - Plant Biochemistry & Physiology (2019-present)
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science (Fellow, 2018-present)
  • American Society of Plant Biologists Education Committee (2018-present)
  • Plant Metabolic Engineering Gordon Research Conference (Co-Chair, 2017)
  • McDonnell International Scholars Academy, China Agricultural University (Ambassador, 2015-present)

Editor of Scientific Journals:[1]

  • Emerging Topics in Life Sciences (Guest Editor, 2020-2021)
  • Encyclopedia of Biological Chemistry, 3rd Edition, (Editor-in-Chief, 2018-2021)
  • Journal of Biological Chemistry (Associate Editor, 2016-present)

Awards and Fellowships:[2]

  • Fulbright Senior Specialist Fellowship (2012)
  • The Journal of Biological Chemistry Exemplary Service Award (2010-2013)
  • National Key Laboratory of Crop Genetic Improvement, Huazhong Agricultural University (International Scholar, 2007-2013)
  • Arthur C. Neish Young Investigator Award, Phytochemical Society of North America (2007)
  • Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists & Engineers (Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers) (2005)


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Biology, Department of (2017-05-04). "Joseph Jez". Department of Biology. Retrieved 2020-12-26.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Jez, Joseph. Curriculum vitae.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Joseph M. Jez". Retrieved 2020-12-26.

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