Those of you who have read this blog for a while may have seen last weeks Mega Chemist Challenge photo before. I had forgotten that I had used this specific picture when talking about ESPCA conference in Brazil last year, and worse, all of their names were given! Fortunately I wrote that piece last September before I was really writing much, so hopefully it did not give the game away too much.
The three chemists pictured (front to back) in this weeks Mega Chemist Challenge are Ei-ichi Negishi, Ada Yonath, and Richard Schrock, and have all received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry since the turn of the century.
No paper this week I am afraid, just a little narrative on Negishi.
Ei-ichi Negishi was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2010 alongside Akira Suzuki and Richard F. Heck for their contribution to the development of palladium catalysed cross coupling chemistry. Neigishi was born in Japan and completed his undergraduate studies in Tokyo, before moving to the USA in 1960 to undertake his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. It was during his PhD that Negishi met Professor Herbert C. Brown, a man whom he greatly admired. Negishi said of his future mentor
“Brown will change the whole world of organic chemistry.
This was certainly the case. Brown was awarded the Nobel prize himself in 1979 for his development and application of boron containing compounds in organic synthesis.
For those who tweet in the UK you may know that trending this week was #whoiveseenlive . I follow none of the twitterati elite, so maybe there were some interesting tweets, but from what I saw My Chemical Romance and Harry Potter seem to top the list of those who tweet about their lives. This didn’t really change my life so I thought I would join in with who I saw this week at the ESPCA conference in Campinias, Sao Paulo. There were no wizard outfits or melodramatic emos, but I was lucky enough to hear from four nobel laureates in chemistry who really have changed the world:
Ei-ichi Negishi awarded the nobel prize in chemistry 2010 (alongside Akira Suzuki and Richard F. Heck). Their development (not theirs alone) of palladium cross coupling chemistry has revolutionised chemical synthesis in the pharmaceutical industry as well as in academic laboratories.
Ada E. Yonath awarded the nobel prize in chemistry 2009 (alongside Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas A. Steitz) for studies on the “structure and function of the ribosome”, natures protein making machine.
Robert R. Schrock awarded the nobel prize in chemistry 2005 (alongside Yves Chauvin and Robert H. Grubbs) for their studies and development of olefin metathesis, which has given chemists the power to manipulate and synthesise one of the most ubiquitous functionalities in organic chemistry, the alkene.
Kurt Wüthrich awarded the nobel prize in chemistry 2002 (alongside John B. Fenn, Koichi Tanaka) for “developing nuclear magnetic resonance for the determination of 3-D structures of biological molecules in solution”. Previously these structures (primarily proteins) were determined using x-rays of crystals, in an environment very unlike that of biological systems.