Professor Carolyn Bertozzi, Laureate 2020 “Chemistry for the Future Solvay Prize”

The 2020 Chemistry for the Future Solvay Prize is awarded to Carolyn Bertozzi, Professor of Chemistry at Stanford University (U.S.A.), for her invention of bioorthogonal chemical reactions that can be performed in living cells and organisms. These reactions can be used to label specific molecules in cells for imaging, for drug target identification and the creation of next-generation biotherapeutics – ultimately helping to diagnose and treat diseases in the long term, particularly in cancer and infectious diseases.


Carolyn Bertozzi, winner of the 2020 Solvay Prize, Brussels


Professor Carolyn Bertozzi is a pioneer and leading scientist in the fields of chemical biology and glycoscience. She coined the term “bioorthogonal chemistry” for chemical coupling reactions that can take place within living cells while maintaining their integrity. Professor Bertozzi has applied bioorthogonal chemistry to probe cell surface glycosylation and to develop new therapeutics and diagnostics for unmet medical needs.

Solvay Prize ceremony 2020

Carolyn Bertozzi at Solvay prize 2020 ceremony
2020 Solvay Prize Ceremony - Brussels, Belgium

“I am deeply honored to join the distinguished list of Solvay prize winners,” said Professor Carolyn Bertozzi. “This recognition reflects decades of work by more than 100 talented coworkers, with whom it has been a privilege to share in scientific discovery. Bioorthogonal chemistry has ignited many allied fields, including physical organic and synthetic chemistry, as well as biomedical science and drug discovery. Biotherapeutics enabled by these chemistries are now having real clinical impact. And basic scientists have found bioorthogonal chemistry techniques to be powerful tools for probing cell biology at the molecular scale.”

“Professor Bertozzi is truly reinventing scientific progress with bioorthogonal chemistry,” said Ilham Kadri, CEO of Solvay. “I am both humbled by her fabulous work and proud to grant her this award on behalf of Solvay, whose founder actively promoted science for the good of humanity and future generations. We firmly believe that her work marks a spectacular, original advancement in chemistry, with likely life-saving applications in therapeutics. Congratulations, Professor Bertozzi!”

Meet Professor Carolyn Bertozzi in video


What is bioorthogonal chemistry?