Initial reactions from the academic community of chemists have been positive.
John Hardy, professor of neuroscience at University College London, described the development of cryo-electron microscopy as “transformative.”
“To give one example, last year the 3D structure of the enzyme producing the amyloid (protein) of Alzheimer’s disease was published using this technology,” Hardy said. “Knowing this structure opens up the possibility of rational drug design in this area.”
“A visual image is the essential component to understanding,” said Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz,professor of mammalian development and stem-cell biology at the University of Cambridge. Such an image is often the first thing to “open our eyes, and so our minds, to a scientific breakthrough.”
The prize comes with an award of 9 million Swedish kronor ($1.1 million), shared when there are multiple recipients.
Previous winners include Marie Curie, known for her pioneering work on radioactivity, and Mario J. Molina, the first person to discover the damaging effect of CFC gases (found in refrigerators and spray cans) on the ozone layer.
Chemistry was the second prize mentioned in Alfred Nobel’s 1895 will and was the most important of the sciences for his own work, according to the official website of the Nobel Prize.
This year’s winners of the Physics and Physiology or Medicine Prizes were announced earlier this week. The prizes for Literature, Peace and Economics will be awarded in the coming days.