Trio of Nobel Winners Have Helped Make Chemistry 'Click'

K. Barry Sharpless wins 2022 honor with Carolyn Bertozzi, Morten Meldal; Sharpless has won before
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 5, 2022 6:04 AM CDT
Scientist in Trio of Chem Nobel Laureates Is a Repeat Winner
A national library employee shows a gold Nobel Prize medal in Bogota, Colombia, on April 17, 2015.   (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara, file)

This year's Nobel Prize in chemistry has been awarded in equal parts to Carolyn R. Bertozzi, Morten Meldal, and K. Barry Sharpless for developing ways of "snapping molecules together" that can be used to design medicines. Their work, known as click chemistry and bioorthogonal reactions, is used to make cancer drugs, map DNA, and create materials that are tailored to a specific purpose, per the AP. Hans Ellegren, secretary general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, announced the winners Wednesday at the Karolinska Institute in the Swedish capital of Stockholm. Bertozzi is based at Stanford University in California, Meldal is at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and Sharpless is affiliated with Scripps Research in California.

Sharpless previously won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2001. He's the fifth person to receive the award twice. Per a release, this year's honor "is about making difficult processes easier"—specifically, via the genre known as "click chemistry," which involves when molecular building blocks snap together quickly and easily, avoiding unwanted byproducts. Sharpless birthed the term in 2000, and he and Meldal soon after, and separately, presented the "crown jewel" of click chemistry, an "elegant and efficient" reaction called copper-catalyzed azide-alkyne cycloaddition. Bertozzi built upon their work and applied it to living organisms, coining the term "bioorthogonal reaction." Last year the prize was awarded to scientists Benjamin List and David WC MacMillan for finding an environmentally cleaner way to build molecules that the Nobel panel said is "already benefiting humankind greatly."

A week of Nobel Prize announcements kicked off Monday with Swedish scientist Svante Paabo receiving the award in medicine for unlocking secrets of Neanderthal DNA that provide key insights into our immune system. Three scientists jointly won the prize in physics on Tuesday: Frenchman Alain Aspect, American John F. Clauser, and Austrian Anton Zeilinger had shown that tiny particles can retain a connection with each other even when separated, a phenomenon called quantum entanglement. The awards continue with literature on Thursday, the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, and the economics award on Monday. The prizes carry a cash award of nearly $900,000 and will be handed out on Dec. 10. The money comes from a bequest left by the prize's creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, upon his death in 1896.

(Read more Nobel Prize in Chemistry stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.