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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: derekb.lowe@gmail.com Twitter: Dereklowe

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September 29, 2009

Nobel Season 2009

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Posted by Derek

Fall is in the air, which (for a very small group of people) brings thoughts of a call from Stockholm. The Nobel Prizes will be announced next week, starting the Physiology and Medicine on Monday. And as in years past, people are lining up with predictions.

Predicting the Chemistry prize is tricky, since it's so often used as a surrogate for the nonexistent Biology prize (and, once in a while, as an overflow Physics one as well). But let's take a look at the field and see if the Scandinavians surprise us or not.

The two best roundups I've seen so far are from the Wall Street Journal and Thomson/Reuters. For Chemistry, the Journal has a pair of biology prize possibilities going to (1) Hartl and Horwich for chaperone proteins, or (2) Winter and Lerner for antibodies (humanized, monoclonal, catalytic). They also have a material-science one for Matyjaszewski (atom-transfer radical polymerization). Note that that last Wikipedia entry seems to show (at least as of this morning) the hand of an interested editor.

Meanwhile, the Thomson people, using a citation-based algorithm, have no overlaps with this list at all. They suggest (1) Michael Grätzel (dye-based solar cells), (2) Jackie Barton, Bernd Giese, and Gary Schuster (electron transfer in DNA), or (3) Benjamin List (asymmetric catalysis).

And over at the Chem Blog, the current favorites are Grätzel and also Richard Zare, Allan Bard, and William Moerner for single-molecule spectroscopy. Those last two have already picked up the Wolf Prize in Chemistry for that work in 2008, and Zare won one in 2005. It's worth noting that Richard Lerner, from the Thomson list, won back in 1994-1995, along with Peter Schultz, who also is often mentioned when Nobel time comes around.

I think that Grätzel is a good bet, considering that the work seems solid and that solar power is such a hot topic these days. I would like to see Bernd Giese get in on a prize, since I did my post-doc with him, but I consider the electron-transfer work to be more of a long shot, at least for now. List is probably the best shot at a "pure organic chemistry" prize; although I also doubt that this is the way it'll go this year. As always, it wouldn't surprise me a bit if things bleed over from biology - the committee might go as far as to consider telomeres to be chemicals and give it to Blackburn, Greider, and Szostak. And that's certainly worth an award, just not in Chemistry.

We'll know soon. Feel free to put your favorites into the comments, and I'll update this post with the list of suggestions. One of has to get it right, you'd think.

Comments (73) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Chemical News


COMMENTS

1. gya on September 29, 2009 8:23 AM writes...

Is Ben List seriously being considered for organocatalysis? Shouldn't that go to Dave MacMillan in all reality? Thoughts welcome!

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2. befuddled on September 29, 2009 9:23 AM writes...

FWIW, speaking as a biochemist, I don't think Lerner et al deserve it for catalytic antibodies. If they had lived up to the hype, yes. But they haven't, so no.

And I've never understood what chemists feel is so interesting about Jackie Barton's work on electron transfer in DNA. I understand that more recent work has indicated that there might be some physiological significance, but in the absence of that, it just seems like a chemical curiousity to me. Or at least, no more interesting than Harry Gray's work on proteins.

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3. Tomato on September 29, 2009 9:54 AM writes...

The List dilemma is just like the prize for asymmetric catalysis in 2001; in a crowded field, who is most deserving?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hajos-Parrish-Eder-Sauer-Wiechert_reaction

It wasn't so long ago that this reaction was developed. And since then, there've been TONS of players: MacMillan, List, Barbas just for "proline-type" catalysts, and if we give it to the field as a whole, we should include anyone who's ever developed reactions based on DMAPs(Fu?) or BINOL / BINAP amides, acids, and phosphinic acids (too many to name)

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4. Anonymous on September 29, 2009 10:31 AM writes...

what about Fraser Stoddart?

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5. LC Square on September 29, 2009 10:51 AM writes...

If it goes to Organocatalysis List and MacMillan would likely share in my opinion.

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6. mojitoto on September 29, 2009 11:11 AM writes...

what about giving nobel for ridiculous abstract ... and the winners are stoddart, tour etc ........
Nobel committee should award pure organic chemistry as total synthesis for Ley, Evans ... or Cross Coupling for Heck, Suzuki

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7. Jim Hu on September 29, 2009 11:17 AM writes...

I'm with befuddled on both Lerner/Winter and Barton. I agree with Blackburn for telomeres, but I wonder if Greider and Szostak are the right people to share it. I tend to think of Blackburn as being the towering figure in the field, but what do I know, I work on E. coli.

I wonder if Chemistry will go to a "real chemistry" area this year, though, after last year's being so far on the biological side of things.

An elephant in the room for the Nobel committee, IMO, is whether Craig Venter ever gets one.

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8. startup on September 29, 2009 11:56 AM writes...

Whoever gets it will be mightily surprised to find out he is a chemist.

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9. Chemjobber on September 29, 2009 12:14 PM writes...

Startup wins the thread!

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10. Slimmy on September 29, 2009 12:17 PM writes...

No way B. List will get a Nobel prize this year - maybe in 20 years...

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11. Iridium on September 29, 2009 12:37 PM writes...

seriously....

Nobel to List ?!?!?!

Why not to any of us than?

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12. cookingwithsolvents on September 29, 2009 12:51 PM writes...

Jackie Barton is high profile but I am completely confused why she is being mentioned and Harry Gray isn't for ET.

I think Pd coupling finally gets it this year. The fallout will be....interesting.

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13. Tom on September 29, 2009 1:02 PM writes...

I don't know who will get the chemistry prize, but it is easy to know who will not get this year:
Those name in Thompson/Reuters. Ironic, isn't it?

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14. not in ´list´ on September 29, 2009 1:27 PM writes...

If it goes to Ben List, many will stop looking forward to nobel list.

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15. Really? on September 29, 2009 3:15 PM writes...

I'm not particularly impressed by the organic catalysis field as a whole. If MacMillan and List get the Nobel for that, the last fragments of my respect for the Nobel Prize will be gone.

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16. retread on September 29, 2009 4:37 PM writes...

I thought Barton's work was rather controversial. Anyone looking at DNA chemically would wonder about electrons moving between the pi electron clouds on the stacked bases (something she calls a pi-way). See PNAS 99 8484 - 847 '02 which says that published claims on DNA electrical conductivity vary by 10 ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE.

Does anyone know if the criticisms of this work have been resolved? I'm not competent to evaluate her claims or those of the critics. From a cellular biological view long it is unlikely that long straight stretches of stacked bases occur in the cell given that a meter's worth of DNA must be crumpled up to fit into a nucleus with a diameter of .00001 meter (10 microns).

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17. Jose on September 29, 2009 5:08 PM writes...

It would be asinine for organocatalysis to trump Pd-couplings.

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18. Donna on September 29, 2009 6:31 PM writes...

Check this out from the comments section circa Oct 2006:

19. Rob on September 29, 2006 12:55 PM writes...

"I always bet on longshots when I go to the horse
races. In that light, I pick George Smith of U. of Missouri to get the award in Medicine for the invention of phage display technology. He gets half the prize. The other half goes to Greg Winter and Rich Lerner for applying phage display to generate humanized monoclonal antibody libraries."

My comment:
I think it is significant that past Nobels for antibody work have not been awarded in Chemistry. The development of monoclonal antibodies (from mouse cells) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine (in 1984). The initial work in characterizing the chemical structure of antibodies was also awarded the Nobel prize in Physiology and Medicine (in 1972). Accordingly, I believe that by precedent, Lerner/Winter, if awarded the Nobel Prize, would receive it in Physiology and Medicine.

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19. InfMP on September 29, 2009 6:33 PM writes...

I won some props for predicting the prize last year, but I don't think it will go to synth organic for a few years.

When it does (since that's what i care about), I feel that cross-coupling is the next deserving topic.

Organocatalysis hasn't changed the world just yet, but it may eventually. On that note, I think Macmillan's work is more eye-catching and innovative.

The problem with Pd is several people have made a huge difference. Heck is alright, but I feel that the most deserving are the ones who really have changed the way EVERYBODY does chemistry, Suzuki and Buchwald. But then everyone screams at me you can't give those without Stille and Hartwig. So I don't know. But Cross-coupling is legion for real.

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20. InfMP on September 29, 2009 6:38 PM writes...

By the way, I'm surprised nobody even dared to start the age-old Nicolaou argument hahahaha.

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21. DC on September 29, 2009 6:54 PM writes...

why not start a nobel for biology and get it over and done with?

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22. Chalker on September 29, 2009 8:02 PM writes...

Pd coupling gets my vote-especially as a med chemist-give it to Suzuki/Buchwald/Hartwig

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23. old-timey on September 29, 2009 8:11 PM writes...

Are any of the following still roaming this earth ? Hajos, Parrish, Eder, Sauer, Wiechert

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24. piratechem on September 29, 2009 11:30 PM writes...

Hajos is alive and a wikipedia contributor. Parrish's name is too common for my basic google investigation.

I think the original HP/ESW papers in the early seventies are often overlooked as "classic papers" because it took decades for direct extensions of their work to be applied.

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25. piratechem on September 29, 2009 11:30 PM writes...

Hajos is alive and a wikipedia contributor. Parrish's name is too common for my basic google investigation.

I think the original HP/ESW papers in the early seventies are often overlooked as "classic papers" because it took decades for direct extensions of their work to be applied.

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26. Hawk on September 30, 2009 12:08 AM writes...

Nicolaou should get any nobel prize awarded for total synthesis. Evans and Ley combined do not equal the portfolio of Nicolaou in terms of complexity, diversity or number.

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27. Jose on September 30, 2009 4:18 AM writes...

Complexity and size KCN's ego >> Evans + Ley.
Elegance quotient

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28. mojitoto on September 30, 2009 4:41 AM writes...

despite huge Nicolaou's lobbying , how about this trio ?
Evans, Ley and Danishefsky ?

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29. ddddd on September 30, 2009 6:07 AM writes...

If it actually goes to a chemist, then Pd coupling (suzuki/buckwald maybe hartwig). If not then I'm changing discipline.

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30. BigBob on September 30, 2009 6:17 AM writes...

Every year we go through the possibilities and every year we end up going WHO? WHY? NO! I'm not sure about the Total Synthesis guys, Corey was the last in 88 I think, with modern methods many non-chemists see this as a trivial building exercise. Palladium couplings, this should have been given years ago. Organocatalysis, give it a couple more years. My thinking would be something nano-related or for some of the work on chells (may be too early). And what about Baldwin, not for his recommendations, sorry, rules, but his work on biosynthesis, the manzamine work is a classic.

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31. bbtech on September 30, 2009 7:35 AM writes...

"Nicolaou argument hahahaha"

KCN, the guy is a technician who has only proven that if you push on a molecule hard enough, with enough grad student amd PDF hours, you can make anything. His biggest contribution to chemistry is the remarkable bluster with which he speaks an writes.

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32. Philip on September 30, 2009 8:43 AM writes...

I'm thinking that if you're gonna give another Nobel for total synthesis, maybe you need to include Gilbert Stork in that list.

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33. befuddled on September 30, 2009 9:05 AM writes...

@#7, Jim Hu.

Part of me hopes that Venter won't get it, since he seems so substandard as a person. But then so is Kary Mullis, and I can't argue with his Nobel. The real question with Venter is who would he share it with? Ham Smith? The guy who wrote the assembly software?

@#18, Donna,

I think there's a good case to be made for G. Smith and maybe someone like R. Sauer for in vitro library generation/selection. I don't know if any of the phage antibody people (and you'd have to pick between Winter, Lerner, and Pluckthun) deserve to be included.

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34. mojitoto on September 30, 2009 9:31 AM writes...

@29 dddddd

I really hope that Hartwig will be prefered to Buchwald
Hartwig has such an impressive way to deeply study mechanism, compares to cooking methodological Buchwald's papers

but it will be nice for the old japanese force to be awarded : Suzuki, Negishi ...

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35. MRTTF on September 30, 2009 10:00 AM writes...

@30 BigBob

If you actually read why Corey got the Nobel, it was for "his development of the theory and methodology of organic synthesis," not actually total synthesis. The only person that got if for pure organic synthesis was Woodward.

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36. anchor on September 30, 2009 10:40 AM writes...

# 22 and # 29

How about Barry Trost or for that matter Tsuji ?
Recall that these guys were original contributors whose work stood test of time.

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37. Orthogon on September 30, 2009 5:30 PM writes...

I think it could be Jensen, Chambon and Evans for the discovery of nuclear receptors. It's pretty amazing that it hasn't been given to them yet.

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38. Morten G on September 30, 2009 5:32 PM writes...

Nikola Pavletich for structural biology of cancer. Though he might be a bit young to get a Nobel. And it's probably more of a Medicine and Physiology than Chemistry. But you never know right?

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39. RTW on September 30, 2009 7:15 PM writes...

For Synthesis I will go with Gilbert Stork as well. Much of his work was shear genius imaginative and somehow he managed to do such fantastic total synthesis work in a era when most of the techniques we take for granted were not available. He didn't do it with a super sized research group either.

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40. A on September 30, 2009 7:46 PM writes...

ATRP is actually invented by Dr. Jinshan Wang. He was a new postdoc in MK's group at that time. Since then, MK has taken the credit. If you check the original literature and patent, you will find out the truth.

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41. old-timey on September 30, 2009 7:50 PM writes...

I can't believe no one has mentioned S. Schreiber for the invention of "chemical biology".

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42. Anonymous on October 1, 2009 12:55 AM writes...

old-timey -

i think stuart is more likely to get the prize for the discovery of "perturbagens"

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43. Ian on October 1, 2009 2:35 AM writes...

LOl @ Nicoloau ever getting anywhere near a Nobel

hahahahahahahaha

breathe

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44. Jose on October 1, 2009 2:47 AM writes...

Current "New Scientist" article suggesting a reform of the Nobel categories to reflect modern science...

http://tiny.cc/Uq7F1

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45. Lars Fischer on October 1, 2009 4:49 AM writes...

Chemistry has always had a glut of worthy candidates, not just because of molecular biologists seeping in. There's just too much good chemistry out there for just one Nobel.

That's why I think we will see a "political" Nobel this year, one that sends a message about what the Nobel Committee sees as most important for the future. Grätzel comes to mind, but my money is on the Palladium people. It's about time, not just for their Nobel, but for the world to realize that we have a real resource problem coming right at us.

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46. sgretz on October 1, 2009 5:47 AM writes...

what about phil baran? beeing young is no prohibition.

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47. mojitoto on October 1, 2009 7:17 AM writes...

"beeing young is no prohibition." i agree but 60 pubs is pretty short to be awarded

tough i dont think Nicolaou deserves it more than Ley, Evans, Stork, Danishefsky; it will be such a shame for Nicolaou that his son got it before

Baran will probably have it in 2040, after his greatdad in 1990 and his daddy 2010

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48. Jan Teller Jr on October 1, 2009 7:47 PM writes...

Well, I´d like to give some names to the debate that we always forget from our bio and/or organic somehow narrow perspective.

At one point in the next five years, my feeling is that the nobel prize will go to inorganic chemistry since there are two huge sub-fields climbing up with great momentum through the ranks of high impact journals...these are MOFs (metallorganic frameworks related to all the hydrogen economy-ish) and SIMMs (single molecular magnets.

Some big names there:

-MOFs: Kitagawa, Yahgi, Long, Fellay
-SIMMs: Verdaguer, Gateschi, Christou, Winnpenny, Coronado, Brechin

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49. Sukie on October 1, 2009 9:59 PM writes...

Talking about future awards, I just found the interesting article on Nobel website: Imaging Life and in the "about" part they put the following in the end:
Nobel Laureates reveal the images that they would most like to see, which not only provides an insight into future scientific avenues in imaging but also hints at the research areas that future Laureates might come from.

So in the next few years I am expecting to see Super‐resolution Fluorescence Microscopy winning in Chemistry.
Big names: Eric Berzig, Xiaowei Zhuang, Samuel Hess.

Stefan Hell will win one in Physics for STED.

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50. Mono on October 2, 2009 4:53 AM writes...

I don't think synthesis will be awarded this year.

Organocatalysis will get it eventually but hasn't really changed anything at the moment (apart from the way grants are written). It will be widely adopted in the future and quite possibly change the way chemistry is practiced - just like metathesis.

Stork and Eschenmoser should be recognised for their various contributions.

Ron Breslow's had one hand on it for years

Jack Baldwin has too many possible contributions to have it narrowed down easily.

Mukaiyama and Evans are also worthy.

I would like to see Pd-coupling awarded but there are, I fear, too many people involved. Suzuki, Miyura, Tsuji, Heck, Negishi. Nobody seems to mention Negishi and I don't really understand why - some people have suggested to me that his contibutions rest on the discoveries of others (?) but if that's the case all of the Pd-coupling guys should be discounted as the strategy of adding transition metals to main group metal substrates stems directly from the work of Karl Ziegler.
Buchwald and Hartwig, although great chemists, do not merit an award of this level.

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51. chemist on October 2, 2009 5:40 PM writes...

There would be no candidacy for Grätzel without the pioneering work of Akira Fujishima and Kenichi Honda. Fujishima was a grad student when he made the serendipitous discovery of the photocatalytic properties of TiO2 and Honda let him pursue it (instead of slamming the door on it). For years I have been saying that they should get the Nobel for their experiments, early theory and real world applications of TiO2 (e.g., environmental remediation; disinfection; "green chem"; etc.).

The area may be getting crowded (Grätzel and copy-cats) but it started with Fujishima's discovery in ~1972.

I would surely nominate Fujishima-Honda BEFORE Grätzel.

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52. Was There on October 2, 2009 6:59 PM writes...

Benjamin List???
He tells an interesting story of how he just came up with the proline idea one day. I was in shock when I heard him say that at a seminar a few years ago
The Nobel Committee should interview people in the lab at the time of the discovery and look at the lab books. They tell a different story. After Lerner and Barbas let List be the corresponding author to help his career, he stabbed them in the back and claimed he came up with the idea. Everyone in the lab was shocked at his behavior since he had to be pushed even to work on the project.
Shouldn't even think of awarding a prize like this to a character like this.

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53. The List on October 2, 2009 9:52 PM writes...

Benjamin List didn't get tenure at Scripps for a reason.

It's way to early for organocatalysis. List has 20 years to change the 'history' of this discovery in his distorted favor.

Only helps MacMillan.

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54. befuddled on October 3, 2009 1:34 PM writes...

@38, Morten G.: I may be wrong, but it's not clear to me that Nikola has done enough to merit a Nobel. Robert Weinberg, maybe, for cancer research. But not by himself, and I'm not sure who he'd share it with.

@49, Sukie: I assume that the nonlinear optics/superresolution Nobels will be in Physics.

Other picks:

Wayne Hendrickson in Chemistry for anomalous diffraction methods (sorry, pure chemists).

Nicole Le Douarin in Medicine/Physiology for studies of neural crest cells.

Akira Endo and Masao Kuroda in Medicine/Physiology for statins.

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55. 2stranded on October 4, 2009 2:39 AM writes...

Micro RNA with get the chemistry prize and the organic chemistry people won't be very happy about it!

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56. Richard Blaine on October 5, 2009 7:16 AM writes...

@40 A: That's the story I heard, too. It would be strange of they had to give the prize to both Matyjaszewski & Wang, as the latter disappeared into industry after leaving CMU and eventually left chemistry entirely. But ATRP has never caught on in the real world (despite KM's intense promotional efforts), and has pretty much been superseded by RAFT. Looking more broadly, there is an embarrassment of riches in the field of controlled radical polymerization, and giving the prize only to KM would be an insult to a great many others (e.g., Otsu, Percec, Sawamoto, Moad, Rizzardo, Geroges, Hawker).

@19 InfMP: Suzuki et al. are the most deserving in my mind, as Pd coupling changed the way almost everyone did organic synthesis. I've run hundreds of these, but I'm old enough to remember when Ar-Ar' was not the first disconnection you made in planning a synthesis. Stille regrettably died in 1989 in the famous United Flight 232 crash in Iowa.

No one has yet mentioned the dendrimer folks, whose work launched a thousand manuscripts (or probably 20 thousand!). But here there would be a lot of deserving people vying for the third slot behind Tomalia & Frechet (who weren't even the inventors, just the most creative early practitioners).

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57. chemist on October 5, 2009 9:49 AM writes...

Re: Dendrimers. I think Tomalia may have had a first since he was at Dow at the time and that might have slowed down his earliest disclosures. George Newkome (South Florida) disclosed his "arborols" around the same time as Tomalia so I call it 'simultaneous independent conception'. Vogtle was a player in the field, too.

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58. Scripps afficiado on October 5, 2009 2:39 PM writes...

If I were Carlos Barbas the third, I would send the following addition and correction to JACS:

We are compelled to update the supporting information with the initial studies that led to the development of the proline catalyzed intermolecular aldol reaction as well as correct the authorship of the study. Benjamin List was originally assigned an asterisk on this paper in order to address reprint requests and the asterisk did not reflect on the conception of the project. Scientific correspondence should be addressed to Richard Lerner and Carlos Barbas. The original discovery was revealed in studies performed by a technician at the request of Carlos Barbas and Richard Lerner. While it has not always been our policy to include technicians as authors on papers, review of this matter compels us to add him as an author for his contributions and the added supporting information.

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59. Scripps afficiado on October 5, 2009 2:40 PM writes...

If I were Carlos Barbas the third, I would send the following addition and correction to JACS:

We are compelled to update the supporting information with the initial studies that led to the development of the proline catalyzed intermolecular aldol reaction as well as correct the authorship of the study. Benjamin List was originally assigned an asterisk on this paper in order to address reprint requests and the asterisk did not reflect on the conception of the project. Scientific correspondence should be addressed to Richard Lerner and Carlos Barbas. The original discovery was revealed in studies performed by a technician at the request of Carlos Barbas and Richard Lerner. While it has not always been our policy to include technicians as authors on papers, review of this matter compels us to add him as an author for his contributions and the added supporting information.

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60. befuddled on October 5, 2009 5:04 PM writes...

What really strikes me about this Nobel, other than the scientific importance of the discovery, is that Greider is sharing it. How often does the grad student share in the prize?

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61. Joe on October 5, 2009 5:08 PM writes...

Politzer is a good example of the student sharing.

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62. Richard Blaine on October 6, 2009 7:06 AM writes...

@57 chemist: For a dendrimer prize, I'd pick Newkome as the third honoree to go along with Tomalia & Frechet. But where would that leave folks like Voegtle or Meijier, or even Denkewalter et al. at Allied, who described dendrimeric structures in patents several years before the seminal publications by the better known scientists? (see Derek's recent post on citing patents!)

Limiting the prize to three people must be an increasingly difficult challenge to the Nobel selection committee.

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63. Concrete Dovetail on October 6, 2009 3:12 PM writes...

I'd like to see Gilbert Stork and Danishefsky get it. I'm amazed at how many European organic chemists do not know these two names.

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64. european on October 6, 2009 4:32 PM writes...

@ concrete dovetail
stop thinking that US is the center of the world !!!
chemists are from all around the world, every organic chemist know those 2 great chemists
remember : there is no need to be US citizen to have culture of great achievements !!!

to be serious : by this green time, nobel committee could award green concepts trough Anastas, Sheldon, Trost ....

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65. European2 on October 7, 2009 3:01 AM writes...

@ Concrete Dovetail
Gilbert Stork IS European (born in Belgium).

Everyone knows who they are. What concerns me is that you suggest Danishefsky (who is an undoubtedly great chemist) but not Albert Eschenmoser. I am amazed that you don't seem to know who he is, or why he should be associated with Stork!

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66. petros on October 7, 2009 5:01 AM writes...

Gone to Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Thomas Steitz and Ada Yonath

Work on ribosome structures

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67. mojitoto on October 7, 2009 9:12 AM writes...

again and again : biochemistry for chemistry nobel
wwhat a shamed !!!
5 out 7 of the last nobel prizes in chemistry were attributed to biology !!!!
what the hell !!!!

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68. Henrik on October 7, 2009 11:58 AM writes...

organic CHEMISTRY, physical CHEMISTRY, bio CHEMISTRY, analytical CHEMISTRY = CHEMISTRY

If you don't believe this, you may be an organic chemist but you are hardly a scientist.

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69. lauren on January 21, 2010 3:58 PM writes...

my grandfather is the Parrish who was a part of the hajos-parrish reaction. He is still well and kicking

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70. charms on September 27, 2010 8:34 PM writes...

If you don't believe this, you may be an organic chemist but you are hardly a scientist.

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71. drx on September 28, 2010 7:56 AM writes...

My money is on Friedrich Wohler for disproving the Vital Force Theory using total synthesis.

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72. zghajos on June 8, 2012 6:43 PM writes...

from the New York Times (Registration Required)
We tend to rewrite the histories of technological innovation, making myths about a guy who had a great idea that changed the world. In reality, though, innovation isn't the goal; it's everything that gets you there. It's bad financial decisions and blueprints for machines that weren't built until decades later. It's the important leaps forward that synthesize lots of ideas, and it's the belly-up failures that teach us what not to do.
When we ignore how innovation actually works, we make it hard to see what's happening right in front of us today. If you don't know that the incandescent light was a failure before it was a success, it's easy to write off some modern energy innovations--like solar panels--because they haven't hit the big time fast enough.
Worse, the fairy-tale view of history implies that innovation has an end. It doesn't. What we want and what we need keeps changing. The incandescent light was a 19th-century failure and a 20th- century success. Now it's a failure again, edged out by new technologies, like LEDs, that were, themselves, failures for many years. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/06/03/magazine/innovations-issue.html?ref=magazine

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73. Max Hugoson on June 6, 2013 10:15 PM writes...

I agree with Sukie, I'd like to tell the Nobel committee to GO TO HELL! (Doesn't mean the same Auf Duetsch as in English.)

OK, personal hero. Anyone watched his videos? He's brilliant for the work, but an EXCELLENT pedagogue too!

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