George P. Smith
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2018
Born: 10 March 1941, Norwalk, CT, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: University of Missouri, Columbia, USA
Prize motivation: “for the phage display of peptides and antibodies”
Prize share: 1/4
George Smith was born in Norwalk, Connecticut in the United States. He studied at Haverford College in Pennsylvania and then at Harvard University, where he obtained a doctorate in bacteriology and immunology in 1970. After a stay at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, he moved to the University of Missouri in Columbia. He remained there for the rest of his career, but spent time at Duke University in 1983–1984, where he began his Nobel Prize awarded work.
Evolution – the adaption of species to different environments – has created an enormous diversity of life. George Smith has used the same principles – genetic change and selection – to develop proteins that solve humankind’s chemical problems. In 1985, he developed an elegant method known as phage display, where a bacteriophage – a virus that infects bacteria with its genes – can be used to evolve new proteins. This method has led to new pharmaceuticals, for example.