Justin M. Chalker

Justin Chalker

Assistant ProfessorKeplinger Hall M245
justin-chalker@utulsa.eduResearch Website

Research in the Chalker laboratory falls under the general purview of organic synthesis and chemical biology. One goal in our research program is to develop novel reactions and synthetic methods that streamline the supply of high-demand materials, particularly those of demonstrated biological or medicinal value. These efforts typically entail coordinated studies in reaction discovery and design, mechanism, and total synthesis. Since we invest in the discovery and development of reactions that are sustainable and maximize synthetic economy, catalysis also plays a prominent role in this research.

A second goal in our laboratory is to develop chemistry for the selective manipulation of biomolecules, especially peptides and proteins. Designing reagents that modify a specific protein at a specific site, while remaining inert to the rest of a biological mixture, is a significant challenge in chemical biology. The development of these so-called “bio-orthogonal” transformations creates many opportunities for the study of proteins in a physiological context. To meet these goals, our research group pursues novel chemistry in water, new methods of peptide and protein ligation, and application of such transformations to unmet challenges in biochemistry. Ultimately, we aim to use these technologies to facilitate the study of protein post-translational modifications and the synthesis of protein therapeutics.

Education and Degrees Earned

  • D. Phil., Organic Chemistry, University of Oxford, 2011
  • B. S., (Summa Cum Laude), Chemistry, University of Pittsburgh, 2006
  • B. A., (Summa Cum Laude), History and Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, 2006

Areas of Research Focus

  • Organic Synthesis
  • Reaction Discovery and Design
  • Catalysis
  • Sustainable Chemistry
  • Peptide and Protein Chemistry
  • Chemical Biology
  • Medicinal Chemistry

Previous Teaching Experience

  • Retained Lecturer in Organic Chemistry, Pembroke College, University of Oxford (2007-2010)
  • Non-Stipendiary Lecturer in Organic Chemistry, St. Edmund Hall, University of Oxford (2007-2010)

Professional Affiliations

  • American Chemical Society
  • Royal Society of Chemistry
  • Faculty of 1000 Biology
  • F1000 Research Editorial Board

Courses Taught at TU

  • Organic Chemistry I (CHEM 3013)
  • Organic Chemistry II (CHEM 3023)
  • Organic Chemistry I Laboratory (CHEM 3011)
  • Undergraduate Research (CHEM 4981)
  • TURC Jr. Scholar Research (TURC 1981)

Awards & Recognition

  • F1000 Faculty Member of the Year in Chemical Biology, 2012
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, 2008
  • Rhodes Scholarship, 2006
  • TURC Mentor of the Year, 2012


  • A “Tag-and-Modify” Approach to Site-selective Protein Modification
    Chalker, J.M.; Bernardes, G.J.L.; Davis, B.G. Acc. Chem. Res. 2011, 44, 730-741.
  • Conversion of Cysteine to Dehydroalanine Enables Access to Synthetic Histones Bearing Diverse Post-Translational Modifications.
    Chalker, J.M.; Lercher, L.; Rose, N.R.; Schofield, C.J.; Davis, B.G. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2012, 51, 1835-1839.
  • A Convenient Catalyst for Aqueous and Protein Suzuki-Miyaura Cross-Coupling
    Chalker, J.M.; Wood, C.S.C.; Davis, B.G. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2009, 131, 16346-16347.
  • Methods for Converting Cysteine to Dehydroalanine on Peptides and Proteins
    Chalker, J.M.; Gunnoo, S.B.; Boutureira, O.; Gerstberger, S.C.; Fernández-González, M.; Bernardes, G.J.L.; Griffin, L.; Hailu, H.; Schofield, C.J.; Davis, B.G. Chem. Sci. 2011, 2, 1666-1676.
  • Olefin Cross-Metathesis on Proteins: Investigation of Allylic Chalcogen Effects and Guiding Principles in Metathesis Partner Selection
    Lin, Y.A.; Chalker, J.M.; Davis, B.G. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2010, 132, 16805-16811.
  • Prospects in the Total Synthesis of Protein Therapeutics
    Chalker, J. M. Chem. Biol. Drug Des. 2013, 81, 122-135.
  • Investigation of cotton functionalized with ZnO nanorods and its interaction with E. coli
    Athauda, T.J.; Ozer, R.R.; Chalker, J.M. RSC Adv. 2013, 3, 10662-10665.