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(NEW YORK) — Three scientists won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry Wednesday for their work in making molecules “click.”
Two Americans, K. Barry Sharpless of Scripps Research in La Jolla, California, and Carolyn Bertozzi of Stanford University in California, and one Dane — Morten Meldal at the University of Copenhagen — received the prize.
Sharpless and Meldal — independent of each other — “laid the foundations of click chemistry,” a field in which molecular building blocks are snapped together “quickly and efficiently.”
Bertozzi then used this field to develop bioorthogonal chemistry, in which scientists modify molecules in cells of living organisms “without disrupting the normal chemistry of the cell.”
“This year’s Prize in Chemistry deals with not overcomplicating matters, instead working with what is easy and simple. Functional molecules can be built even by taking a straightforward route,” Johan Åqvist, chair of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry, said in a statement.
Sharpless previously won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2001, making him only the fifth person to win two Nobel prizes and the second person ever to win the award twice, according to the committee. His first award was for developing three types of chemical reactions.
Last year, scientists Benjamin List and David MacMillan won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for a new tool in molecular construction.
Each Nobel prize is worth 10 million kronor — the equivalent of about $900,000 — and is given to laureates with a diploma and a gold medal on Dec. 10, the date the creator of the Nobel prizes, Alfred Nobel, died in 1896.
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