The American Chemical Society (ACS) has awarded the 2019 Priestley Medal to Nobel laureate K. Barry Sharpless, PhD, W.M. Keck Professor of Chemistry at Scripps Research. The medal is the highest honor given by the ACS. 

Sharpless is known for taking risks in uncharted territory to develop new chemical tools and methods. For example, in 1992, his lab became the world’s first in academia to use robotics for running chemical reactions. He received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2001 for his work on chirally catalysed oxidation reactions. But at the same time, he was also lecturing on a new method he’d invented for the rapid discovery of useful chemical function—click chemistry used reliable, spring-loaded, easy to-perform reactions to ‘click’ together molecular building blocks with desirable properties. 

“Dr. Sharpless has made numerous contributions to chemistry that have each significantly moved the field forward,” says Thomas Connelly, PhD, ACS executive director and CEO. “Whether his work in asymmetric synthesis, which earned him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2001, or the development of the concept of click chemistry, his service to advancing chemistry is beyond measure. He is truly deserving of the Priestley Medal and I offer my heartfelt congratulations.” 

Barry Sharpless
Barry Sharpless, PhD