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Vol. LVII, No. 21
October 21, 2005

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NIH Grantees Share Chemistry Nobel

The 2005 Nobel Prize in chemistry is shared by two long-time NIH grantees, Dr. Robert H. Grubbs and Dr. Richard R. Schrock, along with Dr. Yves Chauvin. The two researchers are honored for developing metal-containing molecules that are used daily in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries to make important compounds.

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences supported the research of each scientist since 1983, spanning the period in which their award-winning work was conducted and published. The institute also helped support the scientists' training before they launched their independent research careers. Over the years, NIGMS has provided nearly $12 million to support Grubbs and Schrock.

"Today's Nobelists developed a technique to control metathesis, a chemical reaction that makes it possible for two chemical entities to switch places, and create completely novel molecules," said NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni in an Oct. 5 statement. "Because of their work, metathesis has become one of organic chemistry's most important reactions and is used to create new materials and pharmaceuticals in an effective, efficient and environmentally friendly way."

The two scientists worked independently to develop molecules, called catalysts, that facilitate metathesis. The catalysts, one developed by Schrock in 1990 and the other by Grubbs in 1992, allow chemists to harness metathesis to make materials ranging from medicines to bulletproof vests.

Since 1954, NIH has supported the work of 36 Nobel laureates in chemistry.