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

The 2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to the Americans Carolyn Bertozzi and Karl Barry Sharpless and Dane Morten Peter Meldal “For the development of” click chemistry “and bio-orthogonal chemistry”, two new fields of modern chemistry, the Royal Academy of Sciences announced Wednesday 5 October. Karl Barry Sharpless achieves the rare feat of winning a second Nobel Prize.

At 81, the latter is the fifth person to win a Nobel Prize twice. She had already won the chemistry prize in 2001 for her discoveries on the asymmetric catalysis technique. The Franco-Polish Marie Curie was the first in the early 20th centuryAnd 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).

The Nobel jury explained that Californian Karl Barry Sharpless and 58-year-old Dane Morten Peter Meldal of the University of Copenhagen are honored for their pioneering work in click chemistry, a new form of combining molecules. This is used in particular to develop pharmaceutical treatments, map DNA or create new materials.

“An obvious way”

55-year-old American Carolyn Bertozzi is sacred for the invention of bio-orthogonal chemistry, a chemical reaction described as being able to trigger in a living organism, but without disturbing or modifying its chemical nature. “I am absolutely amazed. I’m sitting here and it’s hard to breathe “, confided the winner together with the jury. She becomes the eighth woman to win the chemistry award, succeeding Frenchwoman Emmanuelle Charpentier and American Jennifer Doudna (2020).

“This year’s Chemistry Award is about not overly complicated things, but rather about the use of what is easy and simple.”said Johan Aqvist, one of the members of the Nobel committee for chemistry. “Effective molecules can be built by following an obvious route”hailed in reference to click chemistry and bio-orthogonal chemistry.

Last year, Benjamin List of Germany and David Macmillan of Britain were crowned in chemistry for inventing a new type of catalyst that made it possible to produce new molecules, cheaper and cleaner.

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After a very masculine 2021 (twelve men and one woman, none for the scientific prizes), 2022 continued in the same way, with the Nobel Prizes of the Swedish Svante Pääbo in medicine and Alain Aspect (France), John Clauser (USA) and Anton Zeilinger (Austria) in physics. Like the other Nobel laureates, the chemistry prize is endowed with 10 million crowns (about 920,000 euros), to be divided in the case of co-winners.

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Nobel laureates 2022

Le Monde with AFP and Reuters

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