The 2018 Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded to scientists Frances Arnold, George Smith and Gregory Winter for research using directed evolution to produce enzymes for new chemicals and pharmaceuticals, the award-giving body said.
“This year’s Nobel Laureates in Chemistry have been inspired by the power of evolution and used the same principles – genetic change and selection – to develop proteins that solve mankind’s chemical problems,” the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in a statement on awarding the 9 million Swedish crown ($1 million) prize.
Arnold, just the fifth woman to win the Nobel Chemistry Prize, won one half of the nine million Swedish kronor (about USD 1.01 million or 870,000 euros) award, while Smith and Winter shared the other half.
“The 2018 Nobel Laureates in Chemistry have taken control of evolution and used it for purposes that bring the greatest benefit to humankind,” the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences said.
The trio used the same principles of evolution — genetic change and selection — to develop proteins used in a range of fields.
“They have applied the principles of Darwin in test tubes. They have used the molecular understanding we have of the evolutionary process and recreated the process in their labs,” the head of the Academy’s Nobel Chemistry committee, Claes Gustafsson, said.
“They have been able to make evolution many 1000s of times faster and redirect it to create new proteins,” he added.