Awards & Prizes
2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry - Metathesis Reactions
Oct 6, 2005 - 11:34:38 PM

This year’s recipients of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry —Yves Chauvin, Robert Grubbs and Richard Schrock — were instrumental in the discovery and refinement of the olefin metathesis reaction. This increasingly important organic process allows researchers to synthesize certain kinds of complex molecules that were previously difficult and inefficient to make. Their research has opened the door to faster, more efficient and greener methods for developing new drugs and polymers.

Metathesis reactions were first recognized in the 1950s but were poorly understood at the time. Diligent work by the Nobel winners and other chemists has formed a deeper understanding of these reactions and led to their role as efficient, reliable workhorses in the field of organic chemistry. Metathesis is now a method of choice for the synthesis of pharmaceutical candidates.

Researchers around the world use metathesis reactions to synthesize new, more effective drugs and drug candidates. Others are producing high-tech plastics with novel properties. One company even manufactures a baseball bat using metathesis reactions.

Among the peer-reviewed ACS journals in which Chauvin, Grubbs and Schrock have published are the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Organometallics, the Journal of Organic Chemistry and Organic Letters. Schrock served as an associate editor of Organometallics from 1982-89.

Grubbs and Schrock are long-standing members of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society and home of the ACS Green Chemistry Institute.

Comments by William F. Carroll, Jr., Ph.D.,

President, American Chemical Society

"Innovations like the metathesis reactions cited in this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry help to underscore the relationship of chemistry to the economic engine of our country. We need to train more chemists to follow in the footsteps of this year’s winners to sustain the growth of our economy and continue improving the quality of life for people everywhere.

"Metathesis is one of organic chemistry’s most important reactions and, as noted in today’s announcement by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, ‘represents a great step forward for "green chemistry," reducing potentially hazardous waste through smarter production.’

"Metathesis reactions are an important tool in the creation of new drugs to fight many of the world’s major diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s and AIDS. They also are used to develop herbicides, new polymers and fuels."

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