Trio win Nobel Chemistry Prize for research harnessing evolution

Cesar Mills
October 5, 2018

Arnold, Smith and Winter will receive their prize from Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf at a formal ceremony in Stockholm on December 10, the anniversary of Nobel's 1896 death.

"Frances H. Arnold was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the United States in 1956 and she's now at the California Institute of Technology, Caltech, in Pasadena in the Los Angeles area". She received her graduate degree in chemical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1985.

Frances Arnold, from Caltech in Pasadena, was first to use a method mimicking natural selection in order to develop enzymes that would perform specific tasks.

"Obviously we need to celebrate women physicists, because we're out there. They have used the molecular understanding we have of the evolutionary process and recreated the process in their labs", the head of the Academy's Nobel Chemistry committee, Claes Gustafsson, said of the winners.

The uses of enzymes, developed by her, include more environmentally-friendly manufacturing of chemical substances, such as pharmaceuticals, and the production of renewable fuels for a greener transport sector.

"We don't have anything specifically but I do think we want to celebrate as much as we can in any way we can these types of successes", Cartwright said.

"You have to think it's insane", she said. "I would've had a more blossoming end to my career". "My CV went to the Japanese embassy and that's where he contacted me from", she explained. "She's very creative, very bright - she's unbelievable".

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Chemistry professor Michael Hecht said in a University press release that Arnold is a "powerhouse". I mean, you know, enzymes make chemical reactions go faster.

Ms Strickland is the first female Nobel laureate to be named in three years and is only the third woman to have won the physics prize; the first was Marie Curie in 1903. The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, honouring Alfred Nobel, the man who endowed the five Nobel Prizes, will be revealed on Monday. The idea of reducing people's suffering is what pushes me forward."This current stage of research deals with improving suggested therapies and also with the issue that some patients are unresponsive to the treatment, particularly older patients", she added.

According to a Royal Swedish Academy statement, Smith knew it was possible to manipulate a phage's (virus that infects bacteria) genetic material and change the molecules coating its surface, so he chose to use the virus as a means of identifying an unknown gene for a known protein, and vice versa. "I decided that I wanted to become an engineer of the biological world, specifically a protein engineer". In 1993, she showed the power of "directed evolution" for doing that. Instead of waiting for random mutations to creep into genetic code over thousands of generations, Arnold works with bacteria - which produces a new generation in about 20 minutes - and chooses which traits to breed together. If we do, then we can make a billion variants of that one and repeat the process. "That principle has been picked up by many people in chemical engineering and molecular biology".

He said: "In the 1990s the pharmaceutical industry was run by chemists".

He said he has "no idea" what he'll do with the prize money.

"And at first, of course, I thought it was one of my sons, with a problem", says Arnold. Arthur Ashkin, who will get half the prize, is famous for his work on "optical tweezers" - a technology using beams of light to take control of extremely small things like cells or viruses. "Is that the kind of work that people will want to fund?", she asked.

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