From left: Americans Frances H. Arnold and George P Smith, and Briton Sir Gregory Winter, have won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Image Credit: AP

The ‘power of evolution’ won big at the Nobel prizes this year with three scientists being awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry on Wednesday.

Frances H. Arnold, George P. Smith and Sir Gregory P. Winter won the 2018 Nobel Prize in chemistry on Wednesday.

What did they do?

The scientists were awarded for their work in new and innovative methods of directed evolution and antibody engineering.

Frances H. Arnold led pioneering efforts in chemistry to create useful biological systems, including enzymes, metabolic pathways and organisms. These enzymes and bio-systems speed up chemical reactions to create high levels of clean energy or for use in pharmaceuticals.

George P. Smith developed a process called ‘phage display’ that was then taken up by Sir Gregory P. Winter to evolve new proteins and antibodies. These antibodies help in creating drugs for humans counteracting several diseases.

The first one created using these processes, approved for use in 2002, was used for rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and inflammatory bowel diseases. The process of phage display has, since then, been used to make humanised anti-bodies that can neutralise toxins, counteract autoimmune diseases or cure metastatic cancer.

What do they win?

Apart from the biggest honour of being a Nobel laureate, the prize includes a S$1.01 million cash award.

The 2018 Nobel Prize proceeds are being shared among three scientists, wherein half of the cash prize will be awarded to Frances H Arnold while the other half is to be awarded to George P. Smith and Sir Gregory P. Winter.


The Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded 109 times to 178 Nobel Laureates between 1901 and 2017. Frederick Sanger is the only Nobel Laureate who has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry twice, in 1958 and 1980.

This means that a total of 177 individuals have received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Winners of Nobel Prize in Chemistry:

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2018
Frances H. Arnold, George P. Smith and Gregory P. Winter “for using evolutionary principles to develop proteins that have been used in new drugs and medical treatments”

Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson “for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution”

Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L. Feringa ”for the design and synthesis of molecular machines”

Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar “for mechanistic studies of DNA repair”

Eric Betzig, Stefan W. Hell and William E. Moerner “for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy”

Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel “for the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems”

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2012
Robert J. Lefkowitz and Brian K. Kobilka “for studies of G-protein-coupled receptors”

Dan Shechtman “for the discovery of quasicrystals”

Richard F. Heck, Ei-ichi Negishi and Akira Suzuki “for palladium-catalyzed cross couplings in organic synthesis”

Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Thomas A. Steitz and Ada E. Yonath “for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome”

Osamu Shimomura, Martin Chalfie and Roger Y. Tsien “for the discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein, GFP”

Gerhard Ertl ”for his studies of chemical processes on solid surfaces”

Roger D. Kornberg ”for his studies of the molecular basis of eukaryotic transcription”

Yves Chauvin, Robert H. Grubbs and Richard R. Schrock ”for the development of the metathesis method in organic synthesis”

Aaron Ciechanover, Avram Hershko and Irwin Rose ”for the discovery of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation”

“for discoveries concerning channels in cell membranes”, Peter Agre ”for the discovery of water channels”, and Roderick MacKinnon ”for structural and mechanistic studies of ion channels”

“for the development of methods for identification and structure analyses of biological macromolecules”

John B. Fenn and Koichi Tanaka ”for their development of soft desorption ionisation methods for mass spectrometric analyses of biological macromolecules”.

Kurt Wüthrich ”for his development of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy for determining the three-dimensional structure of biological macromolecules in solution”

William S. Knowles and Ryoji Noyori ”for their work on chirally catalysed hydrogenation reactions”

K. Barry Sharpless ”for his work on chirally catalysed oxidation reactions”

Alan J. Heeger, Alan G. MacDiarmid and Hideki Shirakawa ”for the discovery and development of conductive polymers”

Ahmed H. Zewail ”for his studies of the transition states of chemical reactions using femtosecond spectroscopy”

Walter Kohn ”for his development of the density-functional theory”

John A. Pople ”for his development of computational methods in quantum chemistry”

Paul D. Boyer and John E. Walker ”for their elucidation of the enzymatic mechanism underlying the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP)”

Jens C. Skou ”for the first discovery of an ion-transporting enzyme, Na+, K+ -ATPase”

Robert F. Curl Jr., Sir Harold W. Kroto and Richard E. Smalley “for their discovery of fullerenes”

Paul J. Crutzen, Mario J. Molina and F. Sherwood Rowland “for their work in atmospheric chemistry, particularly concerning the formation and decomposition of ozone”

George A. Olah “for his contribution to carbocation chemistry”

“for contributions to the developments of methods within DNA-based chemistry”

Kary B. Mullis ”for his invention of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method”

Michael Smith ”for his fundamental contributions to the establishment of oligonucleotide-based, site-directed mutagenesis and its development for protein studies”

Rudolph A. Marcus ”for his contributions to the theory of electron transfer reactions in chemical systems”

Richard R. Ernst ”for his contributions to the development of the methodology of high resolution nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy”

Elias James Corey ”for his development of the theory and methodology of organic synthesis”