The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2022 rewards two Americans and one Dane for the development of “click chemistry”

The 2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to the Americans Carolyn Bertozzi and K. Barry Sharpless and the Dane Morten P. Meldal “for the development of “click chemistry” and bioorthogonal chemistry”, two new areas of modern chemistry, announced the Royal Academy of Sciences on Wednesday October 5. Barry Sharpless achieves the rare feat of winning a second Nobel Prize.

At 81, Barry Sharpless is only the fifth person to win a Nobel Prize twice. In 2001 he had already won the chemistry prize for his discoveries on the technology of asymmetric catalysis. The Franco-Polish Marie Curie was the first at the beginning of the 20th centurye Century (Physics 1903, Chemistry 1911), followed by the American Linus Pauling (Chemistry 1954 and Peace 1962), the American John Bardeen (Physics 1956 and 1972) and the British Frederick Sanger (Chemistry 1958 and 1980).

California-based Barry Sharpless and 58-year-old Dane Morten Meldal of the University of Copenhagen are recognized for their pioneering work in the “Click Chemistry”, a new way of connecting molecules, explained the Nobel jury. This is used in particular to develop pharmaceutical treatments, map DNA or create new materials.

“An Obvious Way”

American Carolyn Bertozzi, 55, is credited with inventing bioorthogonal chemistry, a chemical reaction described as being able to be initiated in a living organism but without disturbing or altering its chemical nature. “I’m absolutely amazed. I’m sitting here and it’s hard to breathe”, entrusted to the winner together with the jury. She is the eighth woman to win the chemistry prize, following French Emmanuelle Charpentier and American Jennifer Doudna (2020).

“This year’s chemistry prize is about not being too complicated, but using what is simple and easy”said Johan Åqvist, one of the members of the Nobel Committee on Chemistry. “Effective molecules can be built in an obvious way”he greeted with reference to the “Click Chemistry” and chemistry “bioorthogonal”.

Last year, German Benjamin List and Briton David Macmillan were chemistry saints for inventing a new type of catalyst to make new molecules cheaper and cleaner.

also read Article reserved for our subscribers Nobel: Award-winning catalysts for chemistry

After a very masculine 2021 (twelve men and one woman, none for the scientific prizes), 2022 continued this trend, with the Nobel Prizes of Sweden’s Svante Päabo in Medicine and Alain Aspect (France), John Clauser (USA) and Anton Zeilinger (Austria) in Physics. Like the other Nobel prizes, the chemistry prize is endowed with 10 million crowns (around 920,000 euros), which will be shared among other winners.

also read Quiz: What do you know about the history of the Nobel Prizes and their laureates?

The Nobel Prizes 2022

Le Monde with AFP and Reuters

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