Chemist Benjamin List receives Nobel Prize

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Benjamin List vom Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung hat den Nobelpreis für Chemie erhalten.

Benjamin List from the Max Planck Institute for Coal Research has received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Photo: dpa

This year the Nobel Prize for Chemistry goes to the German Benjamin List from the Max Planck Institute for Coal Research in Mühlheim an der Ruhr and the Scottish-born US Researcher David MacMillan for methods to accelerate chemical reactions. This was announced by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm on Wednesday.

The Nobel Committee honors their developments in organocatalysis as a “fine tool for the construction of organic molecules”. The method has a great influence on the development of medicinal substances and it has contributed to making chemical production processes more environmentally friendly. Organocatalysts have the advantage that they can do without metal compounds, which are often harmful to health and the environment.

List reported at the press conference from vacation with his wife in Amsterdam. He did not expect the award: “I thought someone was kidding himself.” (Full first interview as a Nobel Prize winner here)

His now excellent work is already there 20 years ago. In the meantime, however, they are well advanced and provide catalysts that allow chemical reactions to take place in a highly specific and efficient manner. “Today we have catalysts that can do things that enzymes can’t,” said List. Enzymes are proteins with a much more complex structure that perform chemical tasks in organisms.

So far, the committee has not reached the second Nobel Prize winner by phone, but has sent an e-mail and left a voice message on his mailbox. MacMillan is now doing research at Princeton University in the USA.

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The prize money this year is ten million Swedish kronor, which is around 980 . 000 Euro. Last year, the French Emmanuelle Charpentier, who works in Berlin, and the American Jennifer A. Doudna shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. You had been awarded for the development of the gene scissors “Crispr” for targeted genetic modification.

Announcement of the prizes for medicine and physics already done

On Monday and Tuesday the Nobel Prizes in Medicine and Physics were announced. The Nobel Prize for Medicine goes to David Julius from the USA and Ardem Patapoutian, who was born in Lebanon. The two researchers discovered cell receptors through which people perceive temperatures and touch.

Like 980 the astrophysicist Reinhard Genzel is back this year German among the Nobel Prize winners announced so far: The Hamburg meteorologist Klaus Hasselmann is sharing half of the Nobel Prize in Physics with the Japanese-born US American Syukuro Manabe this year.

The other half goes to the Italian Giorgio Parisi. You will for their contributions to the exploration of the climate and other complex systems.

After medicine, physics and chemistry, the Nobel Prize announcements in the categories of literature and peace will follow on Thursday and Friday. Next Monday, the final Nobel Prize winners for economics will be announced. The Nobel Prizes are traditionally awarded on 10. December, the anniversary of the death of prize donor and dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel. (Tsp, dpa)

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