Comments, experts and background on the 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

10/05/05

Comments by William F. Carroll, Jr., Ph.D.,

President, American Chemical Society

"Innovations like the metathesis reactions cited in this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry help to underscore the relationship of chemistry to the economic engine of our country. We need to train more chemists to follow in the footsteps of this year’s winners to sustain the growth of our economy and continue improving the quality of life for people everywhere.

"Metathesis is one of organic chemistry’s most important reactions and, as noted in today’s announcement by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, ‘represents a great step forward for "green chemistry," reducing potentially hazardous waste through smarter production.’

"Metathesis reactions are an important tool in the creation of new drugs to fight many of the world’s major diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s and AIDS. They also are used to develop herbicides, new polymers and fuels."

William F. Carroll, Jr., Ph.D., president of the American Chemical Society, is vice president of chlorovinyl issues at Occidental Chemical Corp. in Dallas, Texas.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

This year’s recipients of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry —Yves Chauvin, Robert Grubbs and Richard Schrock — were instrumental in the discovery and refinement of the olefin metathesis reaction. This increasingly important organic process allows researchers to synthesize certain kinds of complex molecules that were previously difficult and inefficient to make. Their research has opened the door to faster, more efficient and greener methods for developing new drugs and polymers.

Metathesis reactions were first recognized in the 1950s but were poorly understood at the time. Diligent work by the Nobel winners and other chemists has formed a deeper understanding of these reactions and led to their role as efficient, reliable workhorses in the field of organic chemistry. Metathesis is now a method of choice for the synthesis of pharmaceutical candidates.

Researchers around the world use metathesis reactions to synthesize new, more effective drugs and drug candidates. Others are producing high-tech plastics with novel properties. One company even manufactures a baseball bat using metathesis reactions.

Among the peer-reviewed ACS journals in which Chauvin, Grubbs and Schrock have published are the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Organometallics, the Journal of Organic Chemistry and Organic Letters. Schrock served as an associate editor of Organometallics from 1982-89.

Grubbs and Schrock are long-standing members of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society and home of the ACS Green Chemistry Institute.

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND

The American Chemical Society’s weekly newsmagazine, Chemical & Engineering News, has an extensive cover story in its Dec. 23, 2002, issue, which is an excellent source for more information on the significance of metathesis. The story is available at:http://pubs.acs.org/cen/coverstory/8051/8051olefin.html

SOURCES WHO CAN COMMENT ON THE RESEARCH

NAME

TITLE

AFFILIATION

TEL.

Paul Anastas, Ph.D.

Director

ACS Green Chemistry Institute

Office:

202-872-4078

Cell:

202-368-7515

Charles P. Casey, Ph.D.

Professor of Chemistry &

Immediate Past President of ACS

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Office:

608-262-0584 (daytime)

Home (at night): 608-249-8011

Peter Stang, Ph.D.

Editor

Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS)

CELL:

801-541-5548

(Available after 4 p.m. EDT)

Dietmar Seyferth, Ph.D.

Editor

Organometallics

(an ACS publication)

MIT

Cambridge, MA

Phone:

617-253-1861

Ronald Breslow, Ph.D.

Former ACS president

Dept. of Chemistry

Columbia University

Phone:

212-854-2170

Todd Emrick, Ph.D.

Member of ACS Executive Committee, Division of Polymer Materials, Science and Engineering

Department of Polymer Science and Engineering
University
of Massachusetts

Phone:

413-577-1613

or

413-219-9527

Laura L. Kiessling, Ph.D.

Editor

ACS Chemical Biology

University of Wisconsin Dept. Of Chemistry

Office:

608-334-3561

CELL:

608-262-0541

Christopher Bielawski, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Dept. of Chemistry

University of Texas, Austin

Source: Eurekalert & others

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