Nobel Prize in Chemistry for Developing Important Way to Make New Chemicals
The 2005 Nobel Prize in chemistry is shared by two long-time NIH grantees, Robert H. Grubbs, Ph.D. and Richard R. Schrock, Ph.D., along with Yves Chauvin, Ph.D. The two scientists are honored for developing metal-containing molecules that are now used daily in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries to make important compounds.
The NIH's National Institute of General Medical Sciences supported the research of each researcher since 1983, spanning the period in which their award-winning work was conducted and published. The Institute also helped support the training of the researchers before they launched their independent research careers. Over the years, NIGMS has provided nearly $12 million to support the two researchers. This demonstrates that early training dollars and sustained support of investigator-initiated ideas can yield significant discovery.
"New pathways to discovery often depend upon new technologies. Today's Nobelists developed a technique to control metathesis, a chemical reaction that makes it possible for two chemical entities to switch places, and create completely novel molecules. Because of their work, metathesis has become one of organic chemistry's most important reactions and is used to create new materials and pharmaceuticals in an effective, efficient and environmentally friendly way," said NIH Director, Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D.
The two researchers worked independently to develop molecules, called catalysts, that facilitate metathesis. The catalysts, one developed by Schrock in 1990 and the other by Grubbs in 1992, allow chemists to harness metathesis to make materials ranging from medicines to bullet-proof vests.
"By probing the mechanism of the intriguing but poorly understood process of metathesis, Grubbs and Schrock synthesized new catalysts that made this process tremendously useful. These catalysts have greatly aided the process of drug discovery and have had enormous impact on the development of advanced materials," said Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D., NIGMS director who maintains his own chemistry laboratory at the NIH.
Since 1954, NIH has supported the work of 36 Nobel laureates in chemistry.
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