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29.03.2023   kl. 11:15 - 12:30

DIAS Nobel Colloquium: Morten Meldal, Danish Nobel Prize-Winner

Molecular Click Adventures. A Leap from the Shoulders of Giants.

The concept of click chemistry matured simultaneously in different laboratories around the world in the 1990’s. There was an urgent need for quantitative chemical reactions/molecular LEGO® to cope with the pressure from combinatorial science to synthesize, screen and identify one out of thousands – millions of compounds. During investigations of combined Peptide diversity, we more or less serendipitously discovered the CuAAC click reaction in 2001. The mechanism of the reaction will be discussed and its application in a variety of studies involving immobilization, mimicry, structural control and protein ligation will be presented. The more existential aspects of our fundamental understanding of chemistry, the importance of serendipity, and our pledge to the young to study chemistry for a better future, will also be discussed.

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Morten Meldal, Professor in chemistry at the University of Copenhagen, received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2022. He was awarded jointly with Carolyn R. Bertozzi and K. Barry Sharpless "for the development of click chemistry and bioorthogonal chemistry".

Chemists strive to build increasingly complicated molecules. For a long time, this has been very time consuming and expensive. Click chemistry means that molecular building blocks snap together quickly and efficiently. In 2002, Morten Meldal and Barry Sharpless, independently of each other, developed an elegant and efficient chemical reaction: the copper catalysed azide-alkyne cycloaddition. This is now in widespread use and is utilised in the development of pharmaceuticals, for mapping DNA and creating new materials.

Photo: Lars Krabbe