Click Chemistry wins 2022 Nobel Prize

By Dr James Burnley and Dr Annabella Newton

The 2022 Nobel Prize for Chemistry has been awarded to Carolyn Bertozzi, Morten Meldal and K. Barry Sharpless “for the development of click chemistry and bioorthogonal chemistry”.

The ethos of this chemistry was summarized in a seminal publication in the early noughties.  It is fair to say that some in the chemistry community reacted with initial skepticism to the maxim of utilizing ‘a few good reactions’ such as the Huisgen copper catalyzed azide-alkyne cycloaddition.

In the fullness of time however, the ‘click’ ethos gained momentum due to its modular and efficacious nature.   The set of ‘click’ reactions evolved and now have myriad applications from biological probes to complex polymer production.

Barry Sharpless joins a very small group who have been awarded more than one Nobel prize, having been awarded the 2001 Chemistry Prize for his work on catalyzed enantiospecific oxidation reactions. 

The others are John Bardeen (physics 1956 and 1972), Marie Curie (physics 1903, chemistry 1911), Linus Pauling (chemistry 1954, peace 1962) and Frederick Sanger (chemistry 1958 and 1980).

Congratulations to the newly minted Nobel laureates!