TSRI Professor Wins Wolf Prize in Chemistry
The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) Professor K. Barry
Sharpless, Ph.D., has won the 2001 Wolf Prize in Chemistry.
Sharpless, who has been with TSRI since 1990, and holds a
joint appointment in The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology,
is cited by the Wolf Prize jury for his "pioneering, creative,
and crucial work in developing asymmetric catalysis for the
synthesis of chiral molecules, greatly increasing mankinds
ability to create new products of fundamental and practical
Chirality, or handedness, is the structural characteristic
of a molecule that makes it impossible to superimpose it on
its mirror image. Proteins, DNA, and carbohydrates are all
chiral molecules: without the correct handedness, they will
not function as the basic molecules of life. Many drugs must
also be of correct chirality; indeed, in some cases, the wrong
handedness can be toxic.
In 1980, Sharpless reported a breakthrough in synthesizing
chiral molecules. His methodthe highly enantioselective
epoxidation of allylic alcohols catalyzed by a titanium complexis
of broad scope and is now used routinely. More recently, Sharpless
developed another useful methodthe asymmetric dihydroxylation
of alkenes catalyzed by an osmium complex.
Sharpless shares the Wolf Prize with Professor Henri B.
Kagan, Ph.D., University of Paris-South, France, and Professor
Ryoji Noyori, Ph.D., Nagoya University, Japan, who worked
independently in the same field.
The Israel-based Wolf Foundation, established by the late
German-born inventor, diplomat, and philanthropist Ricardo
Wolf, gives annual awards to outstanding scientists and artists.
Previous recipients of the prize include TSRIs President
Richard Lerner, M.D., and Professor Peter Schultz, Ph.D. This
years awards will be presented by the president of the
Israel at a special ceremony in May.
Professor K. Barry Sharpless will receive his award from
the president of the Israel in May.