On 6 October 2021, the Royal Swedish Academy of Science awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Benjamin List and David MacMillan ‘for their development of a precise new tool for molecular construction: organocatalysis’. This has had a considerable impact on pharmaceutical research, and has made chemistry greener.
Both Dr List and Dr MacMillan are directly involved in the supervision of Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Individual Fellowship projects. Dr List is the main supervisor of the MSCA project SusCat, while Dr MacMillan supervises the project PhotoChemBio.
The MSCA and the Nobel Prize
The MSCA has offered numerous scientists the opportunity to advance both their research and careers. Several MSCA researchers have had the chance to work alongside Nobel Prize Laureates, whilst others have been personally honoured with the prestigious award. This highlights their extraordinary contributions to both the scientific community and to society.
James Rothman (Yale School of Medicine) was a supervisor in the MSCA project BFLDs. He received the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine alongside Randy W. Schekman and Thomas C. Südhof ‘for their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells’.
Several fellows from the MSCA projects ITN ACEOLE, ITN TALENT, COFUND CERN, COFUND CERN 2010 and LHC-PHYS were directly or indirectly involved in the revolutionary sub-atomic particle discovery of the Higgs Boson. This discovery led to the award of the Nobel Prize in Physics to François Englert and Peter W. Higgs.
Jean Tirole (Toulouse School of Economics) was a supervisor of the MSCA project MASIEGE. He received the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel ‘for his analysis of market power and regulation’.
Stefan W. Hell (Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen , German Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg) was an MSCA fellow at the University of Turku in 1996-1997. He then coordinated several MSCA Individual Fellowships prior to receiving the Nobel Prize in Chemistry along with Eric Betzig and William E. Moerner ‘for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy’.
Edvard I. Moser and May-Britt Moser (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim) are former MSCA project coordinators. The two Norwegians received a Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology alongside John O’Keefe ‘for their discoveries of cells that constitute a positioning system in the brain’.
Takaaki Kajita (University of Tokyo) was involved in a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions project as a participant. The Japanese researcher has participated in several MSCA projects promoting international collaboration, such as ELITES, SKPLUS and InvisiblesPlus. He received the Nobel Prize in Physics ‘for the discovery of neutrino oscillations, which shows that neutrinos have mass’.
Bernard Feringa (University of Groningen) was the scientist in charge and supervisor of several MSCA projects such as ALERT. Jean-Pierre Sauvage (University of Strasbourg) was the supervisor for the MSCA projects NANO-PRESSES and FEMOS. Ferringa and Sauvage received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry along with J. Fraser Stoddart ‘for the design and synthesis of molecular machines’.
The MSCA project GraWIToN involved nine Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions fellows who contributed to the preparation of the data on gravitational waves. The work of Rainer Weiss, Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne led to the Nobel Prize in Physics ‘for their decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves’.
Richard Henderson (Medical Research Council), the coordinator of the MSCA project Membrane Proteases, received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, along with Jacques Dubochet and Joachim Frank ‘for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution’.
Emmanuelle Charpentier (Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens) is an MSCA alumna and principal investigator involved in the training of young researchers in the field of genomics in the MSCA project ENLIGHT-TEN ITN. Dr Charpentier received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry alongside Dr. Jennifer A. Doudna ‘for the development of a method for genome editing’, CRISPR/Cas9.
- Publication date
- 6 October 2021