|Press Statement from NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D.
NIH Grantees Win 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for Developing
Important Way to Make New Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals
The 2005 Nobel Prize in chemistry is shared by two long-time NIH grantees, Robert
H. Grubbs, Ph.D. and Richard R. Schrock, Ph.D., along with Yves Chauvin, Ph.D.
The two researchers are honored for developing metal-containing molecules that
are now used daily in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries to make important
The NIH's 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 training
of the scientists before they launched their independent research careers. Over
the years, NIGMS has provided nearly $12 million to support the two scientists.
This demonstrates that early training dollars and sustained support of investigator-initiated
ideas can yield significant discovery.
"New pathways to discovery often depend upon new technologies. 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. 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," said NIH Director,
Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D.
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 bullet-proof vests.
"By probing the mechanism of the intriguing but poorly understood process of
metathesis, Grubbs and Schrock synthesized new catalysts that made this process
tremendously useful. These catalysts have greatly aided the process of drug discovery
and have had enormous impact on the development of advanced materials," said
Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D., NIGMS director who maintains his own chemistry laboratory
at the NIH.
Since 1954, NIH has supported the work of 36 Nobel laureates in chemistry.
The Office of the Director, the central office at NIH, is responsible for setting
policy for NIH, which includes 27 Institutes and Centers. This involves planning,
managing, and coordinating the programs and activities of all NIH components.
The Office of the Director also includes program offices which are responsible
for stimulating specific areas of research throughout NIH. Additional information
is available at http://www.nih.gov/icd/od/.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research
Agency — is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human
Services. It is the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting basic,
clinical, and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes,
treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information
about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.