John K. “J.K.” Haynes was born on October 30, 1943, in Monroe, Louisiana. Haynes began first grade at age four. When he made six, his family moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and he attended Southern University Laboratory School. Haynes was seventeen when he moved to Atlanta, GA, to attend Morehouse College. He received his B.S. degree in biology in 1964. Even though he wanted to go to medical school he was advised by a professor to attend graduate school. He went on to attend Brown University and earned his Ph. D. in biology in 1970.
Haynes completed his first year of postdoctoral research at Brown University, where he worked on restriction enzymes. During this time, he became interested in sickle cell anemia, which led to a second postdoctoral appointment in biochemistry at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he worked with Vernon Ingram, the scientist who discovered the amino acid difference between normal and sickle cell hemoglobin.
In 1979, he returned to Morehouse College as an associate professor of biology and as the director of the Office of Health Professions. As part of his work, Haynes created a program for high school students interested in medical school. Haynes has also helped recruit minority students into science programs. Since 1999, he has served as Dean of Science and Mathematics at Morehouse College. Under Haynes administrative leadership, new buildings for both chemistry and biology were created at Morehouse College as well as a curriculum with emphasis on lab work.
Today, Tastemaker Magazine honors the historic contributions Dr. J.K. Haynes has made to sickle cell research.