The 2018 Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded to Frances H. Arnold of the United States, and jointly to George P. Smith of the US and British scientist Gregory P. Winter for their work in evolutionary science to create new proteins.
Arnold is only the fifth woman to win a chemistry Nobel and the second to receive the prize this year after Donna Strickland shared the physics award on Tuesday.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said: “This year’s Nobel Laureates in chemistry have been inspired by the power of evolution and used the same principles — genetic change and selection — to develop proteins that solve mankind’s chemical problems.”
Their work has helped scientists understand processes within cells that were previously invisible, and has led to better understanding of viruses such as Zika.
Arnold directed evolution techniques that are now used to develop new enzymes, while Smith and Winter developed a technique to evolve new proteins, which have been used in areas such as the manufacture of new drugs and green fuels.
The trio has been awarded a $1 million prize for their work, Arnold will take half of that and Smith and Winter will share the rest.
Chemistry is the third of this year’s Nobel Prizes after the winners of the medicine and physics awards were announced earlier this week.