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Solvay awards €300k chemistry prize to Professor Carolyn Bertozzi

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This year’s Chemistry for the Future Solvay Prize is awarded for the invention of bioorthogonal chemistry

Carolyn Bertozzi , the 2020 laureate of the Chemistry for the future Solvay Prize


Brussels, January 20, 2020 – Solvay announces that 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, 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.

Awarded every two years, the Chemistry for the Future Solvay Prize recognizes a scientist for major discoveries that lay the foundation for the chemistry of the future while serving human progress. The winner is selected by an independent jury of six renowned scientists, including a Nobel laureate.

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. 

“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 inspired 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!”

The award ceremony will be held at the Palais des Académies in Brussels on March 10 in the presence of His Majesty King Philippe of Belgium. The €300,000 Chemistry for the Future Solvay Prize was created in 2013 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Solvay’s founding by Ernest Solvay and to perpetuate his commitment to scientific research. It is awarded every two years to honor outstanding achievements in fundamental science (not necessarily related to Solvay’s business activities): first to Professor Peter G. Schultz in 2013; Professor Ben Feringa in 2015 (laureate of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2016); and to Professor Susumu Kitagawa in 2017.


About Solvay

Solvay is an advanced materials and specialty chemicals company, committed to developing chemistry that addresses key societal challenges. Solvay innovates and partners with customers worldwide in many diverse end-markets. Its products are used in planes, cars, batteries, smart and medical devices, as well as in mineral and oil and gas extraction, enhancing efficiency and sustainability. Its lightweighting materials promote cleaner mobility, its formulations optimize the use of resources, and its performance chemicals improve air and water quality. Solvay is headquartered in Brussels with around 24,500 employees in 61 countries. Net sales were €10.3 billion in 2018, with 90% from activities where Solvay ranks among the world’s top 3 leaders, resulting in an EBITDA margin of 22%. Solvay SA (SOLB.BE) is listed on Euronext Brussels and Paris Bloomberg: SOLB.BB - Reuters: SOLB.BR), and in the United States its shares (SOLVY) are traded through a level-1 ADR program. (Figures take into account the planned divestment of Polyamides).

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