K. Barry Sharpless, PhD, who won the 2001 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, has been awarded the 2022 Sir Derek Barton Gold Medal from the Royal Society of Chemistry. The Society honored him “for the development of the concept of ‘click’ chemistry, the invention of chemical reactions underpinning this field and the impact this continues to make in chemical biology, drug development and materials science.” Sharpless, the W.M. Keck Professor of Chemistry at Scripps Research, is one of four founding members of the institute’s esteemed Department of Chemistry, as well as a member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology.
Although Sharpless shared the 2001 Nobel for his work on chirally catalyzed oxidation reactions, he is now best known as the inventor of “click chemistry,” a method his group discovered in 2002 that enables larger molecules to easily snap together, similar to the way Lego® bricks can “click” together. Click reactions are reliable and environmentally green, producing minimal byproducts. Sharpless and his team continue to use click chemistry to amass vast libraries of molecules, each with its own distinct properties and potential applications in drug discovery and materials science.
The Sir Derek Barton Gold Medal is named for the English organic chemist who won the 1969 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.