Mark Lautens was born in Ontario, Canada. He obtained his BSc degree from the University of Guelph, where he graduated with distinction. He conducted his doctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison under the direction of Barry M. Trost, where he discovered Mo-catalyzed allylic alkylation and Pd enyne cycloisomerization. In 1985, he moved to Harvard University where he conducted his NSERC PDF with David A. Evans on studies directed toward the synthesis of bryostatin, a potent anti-cancer agent. He joined the University of Toronto in 1987 as an NSERC University Research Fellow and Assistant Professor. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1992 and Professor in 1995. Since 1998, he has held an Endowed Chair, the AstraZeneca Professor of Organic Synthesis, and from 2003–13 he was named an NSERC/Merck Frosst Industrial Research Chair in New Medicinal Agents via Catalytic Reactions. In 2012, he was appointed as University Professor, the highest rank at the University of Toronto.