Robert Bruce Merrifield
Born: 15 July 1921, Fort Worth, TX, USA
Died: 14 May 2006, Cresskill, NJ, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: Rockefeller University, New York, NY, USA
Prize motivation: "for his development of methodology for chemical synthesis on a solid matrix."
Prize share: 1/1
Peptides and proteins are substance of fundamental importance for all life. These molecules consist of amino acids assembled in chains and can be produced by artificial means by building the chain in steps. At the beginning of the 1960s, Bruce Merrifield developed a method for avoiding significant impurities in the final product that result from a relatively small amount of impurities in each step. If a chain-formed molecule in solid form is attached to the first amino acid, impurities can be rinsed away between every step. This process can be carried out mechanically.