Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Nobel Prize in Chemistry goes to trio of evolutionary scientists

Frank Williams | 04 October, 2018, 07:58

Clearly his entrepreneurial vision, ability to surround himself by extremely competent people and openness to new techniques such as phage display makes him a worthy victor of this year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

This method has been used to create antibodies that can neutralize toxins such as that which causes anthrax and slows down an autoimmune disease called lupis, and even cure metastatic cancer.

'This year's nobel laureates have been able to direct evolution to make proteins with new and useful properties, ' said Claes Gustafsson, chairman of the Nobel committee for chemistry, at the announcement of the prize in Stockholm, Sweden.

Arnold made the first enzymes - proteins that catalyse chemical reactions - through directed evolution, and they've been used in the production ranging from biofuels to pharmaceuticals. And used this approach to develop new types of chemicals for the greatest benefit of humankind... The other half will be shared by George Smith of the University of Missouri and Gregory Winter of the MRC Molecular Biology Laboratory in Cambridge, England.

She said that while historically it was true that far fewer women than men worked in research, the scientific community needed to wake up the field's changing demographics. It's used to treat a number of conditions in which the immune system goes awry, including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease and others.

For the first time in the Nobel Prizes' 117-year history, an American woman on Wednesday was awarded the coveted prize for chemistry - an accolade that only four other women in the world have won. "Virtually all of them build on what went on before", he said.

George Smith from the University of Missouri is a staunch critic of Israel and a member of the Jewish Voice for Peace, a left-wing activist organization that supports boycotting Israel. "Proteins aren't designed, they're evolved".

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Nobel Prize-winning scientist Donna Strickland did not have a Wikipedia page until she became a Nobel laureate, and earlier attempts to write a page for her were rejected because she was not famous enough.

She is the Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry at the California Institute of Technology.

"My sense is that women often work towards the collective good and often may sacrifice their individual career for advancing the community", she said.

Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson were awarded the prize for "developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution".

Professor Frances Arnold, an American chemist, was awarded half of the prize, which is worth 9 million Swedish kroner (£771,000). "But since I'm an engineer and not a gentleman, I had no problem with that".

Scientists from the United States, Canada and France shared the physics prize Tuesday for revolutionizing the use of lasers in research. No literature prize will be awarded this year. Fifteen graduate alumni have won Nobel Prizes, most recently Kip Thorne, who completed his Ph.D.in 1965 and won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics.

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