Jonathan L Sessler was born in Urbana, Illinois, USA on 20 May 1956. He received a BS degree (with Highest Honors) in chemistry in 1977 from the University of California, Berkeley. He obtained a PhD in organic chemistry from Stanford University in 1982 (supervisor: Professor James P. Collman). He was a NSF-CNRS and NSF-NATO postdoctoral fellow with Professor Jean-Marie Lehn at L'Université Louis Pasteur de Strasbourg, France. He was then a JSPS visiting scientist in Professor Tabushi's group in Kyoto, Japan.
In September, 1984 Dr Sessler accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Texas, Austin, where he is currently the Doherty-Welch Chair. Dr Sessler has authored or co-authored over 860 research publications, written two books (with Dr Steven J Weghorn and Drs Philip A Gale and Won-Seob Cho respectively), co-edited two others, and been an inventor of record on over 80 issued US patents.
From 2008–2019 Dr Sessler served as an Associate Editor for ChemComm. He was a co-founder (with Dr Richard A Miller) of Pharmacyclics Inc, which was acquired by AbbVie for $21 billion in 2015. His lanthanide texaphyrin technology is now the basis for a new company, OncoTex Inc.
In addition to English, Dr Sessler speaks French, Hebrew and Spanish and knows some German, Japanese, and Korean. He is a member of the US National Academy of Inventors, the European Academy of Sciences, and the US National Academy of Sciences.