Friday, February 11, 2011


CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- K. Barry Sharpless, an MIT chemistry professor for 17 years until he joined Scripps Research Institute in 1990, was chosen October 10 to share the 2001 Nobel Prize in chemistry with two other researchers.

Sharpless, 60, received a Ph.D. degree in 1968 from Stanford University. Since 1990, he has been W. M. Keck Professor of Chemistry at the Scripps Research Institute.

After starting his career at MIT as an assistant professor, Sharpless moved back to Stanford in 1977. Although he had started his quest for a practical catalyst for asymmetric epoxidation while at MIT, after 10 years of effort, the key breakthrough took place in January 1980 at Stanford.

Sharpless decided that he wanted to return to MIT to pursue this important discovery. He and his lab moved back to MIT that summer. It was at MIT that he fully developed the process now known as the Sharpless Asymmetic Epoxidation and it was also here that he and his coworkers discovered the Sharpless Asymmetric Dihydroxylation. Sharpless left MIT in 1990 to join the Scripps Research Institute.

"Barry's friends and former colleagues here at MIT are thrilled that his important contributions to chemistry have been recognized with this year's Nobel Prize in chemistry," said Rick L. Danheiser, A. C. Cope Professor and associate department head in chemistry. "Most of the work for which the prize was awarded was carried out here at MIT, where Barry was a valued colleague and a wonderful teacher and mentor for a great many students over the years."

Source :

K. Barry Sharpless

Born: 28 April 1941, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Affiliation at the time of the award: The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA, USA

Prize motivation: "for his work on chirally catalysed oxidation reactions"

Field: Organic chemistry, industrial chemistry

K. Barry Sharpless

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