Scientists Win Nobel Prize in Chemistry for ‘Greener’ Way to Build Molecules

German Benjamin List and Scottish-born David MacMillan have won the 2021 Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Wednesday for developing “an ingenious tool” for molecular construction that is environmentally friendly.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced the awarding of the Nobel prize to List of the Max Planck Institute for Coal Research in Germany and MacMillan of the Princeton University in the United States for their work on asymmetric organocatalysis, revolutionizing pharmaceutical research and reducing the environmental impact of chemistry.

“This concept for catalysis is as simple as it is ingenious, and the fact is that many people have wondered why we didn’t think of it earlier,” said Johan Aqvist, chair of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry.

List and MacMillan’s work allowed scientists to form molecules more cheaply, efficiently, safely with significantly less hazardous waste. The new tools they developed help in producing medicines and minimizing drug manufacturing glitches including problems that can cause harmful side effects.

List and MacMillan will share the prestigious 10-million Swedish crown ($1.14-million) prize in equal parts for breakthroughs achieved independently of one another.


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