Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1987
Born: 30 September 1939, Rosheim, France
Affiliation at the time of the award: Université Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg, France, Collège de France, Paris, France
Prize motivation: "for their development and use of molecules with structure-specific interactions of high selectivity."
Prize share: 1/3
Chemical reactions often occur through the influence of molecules that have cavities and pockets where other atoms and molecules can be attached to then join with other molecules. After Charles Pedersen discovered crown ethers, molecules that can capture certain metallic atoms, Jean-Marie Lehn found related molecules in 1969 that he called cryptands. They can capture certain types of molecules, making it possible to create chemical compounds through chemical reactions that have a significant impact on biological processes.
Their work and discoveries range from cancer therapy and laser physics to developing proteins that can solve humankind’s chemical problems. The work of the 2018 Nobel Laureates also included combating war crimes, as well as integrating innovation and climate with economic growth. Find out more.