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Nobel Prize in chemistry goes to researcher in Copenhagen Science City

Morten Meldal 2022 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry

The 2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry goes to Professor Morten Meldal of the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Chemistry. He is recognized for his pioneering work in what is known as click chemistry – a chemical reaction that makes it possible to “snap” molecules together in simple ways. The method is an extraordinarily useful tool, particularly in pharmaceutical research.

Valuable for University, city and nation

Morten Meldal has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry alongside American researchers Barry Sharpless and Carolyn Bertozzi. Including Meldal, Copenhagen Science City-partner University of Copenhagen has been home to ten laureates. The last time one of the Swedish gold medals landed at the university was in 1984.

We are immensely impressed with the work of Meldal. He is the first University of Copenhagen researcher to receive a Nobel Prize in 38 years. His achievements will help us attract talent and financing to the University and the wider innovation ecosystem in Copenhagen Science City”: David Dreyer, Prorector for research, University of Copenhagen and Chairman, Copenhagen Science City Development Council.

Useful research

Meldal shares the prize with American researchers Barry Sharpless and Carolyn Bertozzi. The Nobel Committee emphasises the simplicity and great usefulness of the research as a reason for the nomination.

This year’s Prize in Chemistry deals with not overcomplicating matters, instead working with what is easy and simple. Functional molecules can be built even by taking a straightforward route,” says Johan Åqvist, Chair of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry.

Chemistry like LEGO

Click chemistry, or the click reaction, is a chemical reaction in which certain molecular groups, each carrying one part of a particular bond in the surface, are snapped together. Imagine two Lego bricks, one of which has a rise and the other a recess – which can click together and bind the molecules upon which they reside to a new constellation. This allows molecular “building blocks” to be assembled relatively simply into advanced and useful molecules for a multitude of functions, especially in pharmaceutical research.

Drug discovery and new materials

Since its discovery, the reaction has been widely deployed as a quick and efficient chemical tool. Examples of its usefulness range from everyday things, like paint that binds better to a surface, to better pharmaceuticals and new forms of treatment, e.g., in the purification of insulin and development of new cancer drugs.