The Nobel jury said the winners had harnessed principles of evolution to develop proteins used to make everything from biofuels to pharmaceuticals. Frances Arnold, 62, is just the fifth woman to win the Nobel Chemistry Prize.
"The 2018 Nobel Laureates in Chemistry have taken control of evolution and used it for purposes that bring the greatest benefit to humankind," the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences said.
"They have applied the principles of Darwin in test tubes. They have used the molecular understanding we have of the evolutionary process and recreated the process in their labs," the head of the Academy's Nobel Chemistry committee, Claes Gustafssonn said.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the #NobelPrize in Chemistry 2018 with one half to Frances H. Arnold and the other half jointly to George P. Smith and Sir Gregory P. Winter. pic.twitter.com/lLGivVLttB
The Nobel jury said the uses of Frances Arnold’s enzymes include more environmentally friendly manufacturing of chemical substances, such as pharmaceuticals, and the production of renewable fuels for a greener transport sector ever since she conducted her first directed evolution of enzymes in 1993.
The other half of this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry is shared by George P. Smith and Sir Gregory P. Winter, the jury said, adding that in 1985, George Smith developed an elegant method known as phage display, where a bacteriophage – a virus that infects bacteria – can be used to evolve new proteins.
The award which is given by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences every year was given to Joachim Frank, Richard Henderson and Jacques Dubochet last year for the development of cryo-electron microscopy which helps to improve the imaging of biomolecules.
According to the academy, this year Arnold will take home the $1.01 million prize, while Smith and Winter, 67, will share the other half.