3 scientists awarded Nobel Chemistry Prize for work in evolutionary science

Screen displays portraits of Frances H Arnold and George P Smith, both of the USA, and Gregory P Winter of Great Britain during the announcement of the winners of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Two Americans and one Briton have won the 2018 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for developing new processes used to create drugs, chemicals and biofuels.

At a time when gender bias in the sciences is under scrutiny as never before Arnold's win makes her the first woman to take the chemistry prize since Ada Yonath in 2009 for her work on the ribosome's inner workings.

Arnold, who is 62 years old, joins four other women who have won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

This year's other honorees-Smith and Winter-have both made significant contributions to the phage display method, which finds a bacteria-infecting virus known as a bacteriophage employed in the evolution of new proteins.

Winter adapted the approach to create useful antibodies, proteins that target and grab onto disease-related targets.

These drugs - the first of which were approved in the early 2000s - are now routinely used to treat advanced cancers and autoimmune disorders and to counteract toxins. Instead of waiting for random mutations to creep into genetic code over thousands of generations, Arnold works with bacteria - which produces a new generation in about 20 minutes - and chooses which traits to breed together. Medications for rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel diseases have come from their work.

"So with that I'd like to ask Claes Gustafsson, chairman of the Nobel committee, to make some remarks about the prize". They were the wish of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, who established the organization that provides money for the prizes.

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The award "wonderfully recognizes the power of harnessing protein evolution to solve a wide range of problems in the molecular sciences", says David Liu, a chemist and directed evolution expert at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "But since I'm an engineer and not a gentleman, I had no problem with that", Arnold said in an interview in 2014.

Winter says he realized afterward there was a "moral imperative" to ensure "what was produced could be used for public benefit". Virtually all of them build on what went on before.

"Frances's work has added entirely new dimensions to protein chemistry and biotechnology", said Douglas Clark, dean of the College of Chemistry at Berkeley and a friend of Arnold's.

James Allison of the U.S. and Tasuku Honjo of Japan jointly won the 2018Nobel Prize in Medicine on October 1, for developing a pioneering therapeutic approach for cancer treatment.

For Owens, the fact that the Nobels are awarded for individual rather than team efforts could be another reason why there are so few women winners.

Strickland won the 2018 Nobel Prize for Physics for breakthroughs in the field of lasers on Tuesday alongside French scientist Gerard Mourou.

For Patricia Rankin, professor of Physics at the University of Colorado, Boulder, Strumia's suspension was an example that "change is happening" in efforts to battle outright sexism in science.

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