Andrew Bennet grew up in the UK and studied at the University of Bristol where he received a B.Sc. in Chemistry (1979) and Ph.D. in Physical Organic Chemistry under the supervision of Dr. Michael Sinnott (1985). He then undertook postdoctoral studies in North America, first at the University of Kansas with Professor Richard Schowen (1985–1987), and subsequently at the University of Alberta with Professor R. Stan Brown (1987–1991). He joined Simon Fraser University as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry in 1991, and received promotion to Associate Professor with tenure in 1997 and Professor in 2001 . He served as Chair of the Department from 2004 to 2009.
Dr. Bennet’s research interests include understanding how enzymes accelerate reactions, information that he then uses to design potential therapeutic agents. His research team has probed the link between transition state stabilization and enzyme inhibition; these studies included the development of new, highly efficient, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopic methods for the measurement of kinetic isotope effects. In other work, his group has shown that, contrary to the prevailing assumption, a currently approved therapeutic agent for the treatment of influenza is not a transition state mimic, and they have developed the first mechanism-based inactivator of a glycosyl hydrolase that involves the formation of a non-classical carbocation intermediate. He received the 2009 Bernard Belleau Award from the Canadian Society for Chemistry (CSC) in recognition of his distinguished contributions to the field of medicinal chemistry through research involving biochemical or organic chemical mechanisms.