This Wednesday (5), the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry to a trio of scientists for their groundbreaking studies on the construction of molecules. Among the laureates is the American chemist K. Barry Sharpless, who joined the select group of people who have won a Nobel more than once.
In 2001, he was also among the trio winning the same award. On that occasion, Sharpless and another duo of chemists were awarded for the research that gave new possibilities to the manufacture of medicines by the pharmaceutical industry.
Born in 1941 in Pennsylvania, Sharpless holds a PhD in chemistry from Stanford University and teaches at Scripps Research.
With this Wednesday’s prize (5), once again Sharpless will share the prize pool of 10 million Swedish kronor, equivalent to around R$ 4.17 million.
From the first Nobel Prize in 1901 to the 2021 edition, the prizes have been awarded 609 times – to 943 people and 25 organizations. Considering the Medicine, Physics and Chemistry awards, which have already been awarded this year, the list of people grows to 949.
However, throughout this entire history, apart from Sharpless, only four other people (and two organizations) have won the Nobel more than once. Meet the full group below.
Nobel Prize in Physics (1903), Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1911)
French-Polish Marie Curie is the only woman to have won more than one Nobel Prize in history.
In the third edition of the award, in 1903, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics with her husband, Pierre Curie, “in recognition of the extraordinary services they have rendered by their joint research on the phenomena of radiation”.
In 1906, Curie became a widow after the tragic death of her husband in a hit-and-run, but she continued the couple’s work alone.
In 1911, she became the first person to have won more than one Nobel Prize when she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry “in recognition of her services to the advancement of chemistry through the discovery of the elements radium and polonium, the isolation of radium, and the study of of the nature and compounds of this remarkable element”.
Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1954), Nobel Peace Prize (1962)
The distinguished American chemist Linus Pauling is the only person to have been laureate alone twice.
After the development of quantum mechanics in the 1920s, in the following decade Linus Pauling was among the pioneers in using quantum mechanics to understand and describe how atoms join together to form molecules.
In 1954, he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for his research on the nature of chemical bonding and its application in the elucidation of the structure of complex substances”.
In that same decade, in the middle of the Cold War, he stood out for his performance in the movement against nuclear weapons, having been labeled a suspected communist, with some episodes of revoking his passport.
In 1962, he won the Nobel Peace Prize “for his fight against the nuclear arms race between East and West”.
Nobel Prize in Physics (1956 and 1972)
American physicist and researcher at the University of Illinois, John Bardeen, was the first person to win the same Nobel Prize more than once.
In 1956, he shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with two other scientists “for their research on semiconductors and their discovery of the transistor effect”. In 1972, he again shared the same prize as a trio “for their jointly developed theory of superconductivity, generally called the BCS theory”.
The works with Bardeen’s participation focus on the phenomenon that certain metals, when cooled to extremely low temperatures, become superconductors – conducting electrical current without resistance. He also helped to understand that, under these conditions, electrons stop moving randomly and pair up in orderly motion.
Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1958 and 1980)
British biochemist Frederick Sanger was born in a small village in England. He began his chemistry studies at Cambridge University, where he received his PhD and spent the rest of his life researching.
The main focus of his work was around proteins, particularly insulin, which regulates blood sugar. In the 1940s, Sanger studied the composition of insulin and used acids to break the molecule into smaller pieces.
His work identified how chains of amino acids are linked together in a protein. For this, in 1958, he received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for his work on the structure of proteins, especially that of insulin”.
And in 1980, he shared the same award with two other scientists “for their fundamental studies of the biochemistry of nucleic acids, with particular attention to recombinant DNA”.
In addition to this small group of people, two entities also accumulate more than one Nobel Prize in their history.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has the most prizes won, having won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1917, 1944 and 1963.
On the first occasion, for his work in the care of wounded soldiers, prisoners of war and their families during the First World War. The second prize for similar reasons, in the context of World War II. And the last one “for promoting the principles of the Geneva Convention and cooperation with the UN”.
ICRC founder Henry Dunant was the first recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1901.
The second organization with more than one Nobel Prize is the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), winner of the 1954 and 1981 Nobel Peace Prizes.
The first victory was justified by “his efforts to heal the wounds of war, providing aid and protection to refugees around the world”. The second prize was motivated “for promoting the fundamental rights of refugees”.
Source: CNN Brasil