The third woman to ever to receive the physics prize was awarded yesterday.
Arnold is the second woman to win a Nobel Prize this year. Many other antibodies created in this way are now in clinical trials, such as those developed to fight Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Academy. “Since then, she has refined the methods that are now routinely used to develop new catalysts”, said the release. Because they are so useful, scientists had long tried to create enzymes with desired properties artificially, but with little success. The truth is that by much hard work and careful thought, they accomplished what accidental processes would never accomplish on their own. A phage is a virus that can infect bacteria and trick them into reproducing it. Smith found that it was possible to tinker with the genetic material of a phage to change the molecules stuck on its outside.
Sir Gregory used phage display to evolve antibodies with the aim of producing new drugs. “But since I’m an engineer and not a gentleman, I had no problem with that”, Arnold said in an interview in 2014. “All this tremendous beauty and complexity of the biological world all comes about to this one simple lovely design algorithm”. She looked into evolution. “I didn’t set out to study cancer, but to understand the biology of T cells, these incredible cells that travel our bodies and work to protect us”. “To me it is obvious that this is the way it should be done”.
She didn’t even have a Wikipedia page before Tuesday’s win, as one editor at the online encyclopaedia deemed her insufficiently notable to merit an entry. Arnold devised methods for reshuffling the genes that make enzymes, and then seeing which new recipes produced promising effects. The research honoured Wednesday mimicked that process by inducing mutations in proteins and selecting those that best met the goals of the research. In 1993, she showed the power of “directed evolution” for doing that.
Sweden’s Royal Academy of Sciences, which chose the winners, said Mr Ashkin, 96, developed “optical tweezers” that can grab tiny particles such as viruses without damaging them. For Scientific American’s Science Talk, I’m Steve Mirsky. How do you get a whole new chemical activity that you don’t know already existed?
On winning the Nobel, she told the AP: “I just find the whole thing surreal”.
Arnold, born in 1956 in Pittsburgh, studied engineering at Princeton University only a few years after the college began admitting women.
“Once oil prices had dropped, there was no future in biofuels, and Reagan basically killed all the research funding for it”, said Harvey Blanch, Arnold’s Ph.D. adviser and a professor emeritus of chemical and biomolecular engineering. In 2013, she became the director of the institution’s Donna and Benjamin M. Rosen Bioengineering Center.
In announcing the award, the Royal Swedish Academy stated that the researchers had “harnessed the power of evolution”.
More recently she has created unusual reactions between carbon and boron, and carbon and silicon, which is “kind of fascinating because you start to think about other life forms”, Blanch said. For example, when she brought male graduate students to a telescope, “I was always assumed to be the student, and my student was always assumed to be the person in charge of me”, she says.
Smith is not Jewish, but his bio on the Mondoweiss website states: “My wife is Jewish and our sons are bar mitzvahed, and I’m very engaged with Jewish culture and politics”.