UD professor wins Nobel Prize

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced on Wednesday morning that Richard F. Heck, the Willis F. Harrington Professor Emeritus at the University of Delaware, has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, according to a statement on the school’s Web site.

Heck shared the award with two fellow researchers for their work in “palladium-catalyzed cross couplings in organic synthesis.” The official statement that accompanied the award read that the scientists have discovered “more efficient ways of linking carbon atoms together to build the complex molecules that are improving our everyday lives.”
We would break this down for you to make it a little more easy to understand but, quite frankly, this research is far beyond our own capabilities here.

According to the Nobel release (per the UDaily Web site), “Carbon-based (organic) chemistry is the basis of life and is responsible for numerous fascinating natural phenomena: colour in flowers, snake poison and bacteria killing substances such as penicillin. Organic chemistry has allowed man to build on nature’s chemistry; making use of carbon’s ability to provide a stable skeleton for functioning molecules. This has given mankind new medicines and revolutionary materials such as plastics.”

In a nutshell, what Heck and his fellow researchers accomplished could enable scientists to create new medicines and drugs. UD Provost Patrick Harper mentioned “cancer drugs” specifically in his remarks.

From our understanding, the ability to manipulate carbon-based chemicals is positively substantial in the world of science. And in the world of the rest of us who don’t fully understand Heck’s work, the fact that new medicines could result from his research is even more important. It could be life-saving, in fact.

But this is also very important to the University of Delaware. The prestige alone could result in more funding opportunities for the school, talented young scientists coming to the school to study and conduct research and generally more attention paid to the scientists and professors at the school and all the hard work they labor through in the interests of advancement.

It is a feather in the cap of a state university that earned its feather through the skills, intellect and determination of Heck and others like him. This is a time for the entire university and its alums to be proud. This is a time for the entire state to be proud.

We proudly congratulate Richard Heck for his miraculous achievement and recognition, as well as the people at the University of Delaware.