Welch Award honors 2 for unlocking nature's secrets

Battersby, Scott share $300,000 prize for lifetime contributions to biosynthesis

HOUSTON * May 31, 2000 * From the yeasts used since ancient times for baking bread and making wine to modern-day drugs like taxol extracted from Pacific Yew trees to treat breast and ovarian cancer, nature has served as a rich source of products that improve human life. Today, thanks to the pioneering research of the 2000 Welch Award co-recipients, we are closer to understanding how nature makes these products and being able to re-create that work in the test tube.

Sir Alan R. Battersby, Emeritus Professor of Organic Chemistry, University of Cambridge, and A. Ian Scott, Davidson Professor of Science and Director of the Center for Biological NMR, Texas A&M University, will share the $300,000 annual Welch Award recognizing their lifetime achievements in biosynthesis and bioorganic chemistry. The two chemists have decoded the blueprints for the manufacture of many of nature's more beneficial products, including vitamin B12, one of its most complex structures.

"These insights set the stage for further efforts to mimic nature and produce vitamins, antibiotics and other beneficial products in a shorter time and with less cost in terms of both money and the impact on the environment," said Richard J. V. Johnson, chairman of the board, The Welch Foundation. "The work of Drs. Battersby and Scott truly embodies the spirit of the Welch Award: basic research in chemistry that contributes to the betterment of humankind."

"Working separately, these two chemists have significantly increased our understanding of how nature makes products essential to human life," said Norman Hackerman, chairman of the Welch Scientific Advisory Board. "In particular, after several decades of effort, Dr. Scott and Dr. Battersby each finally unraveled the complicated pathway for creating vitamin B12 * a significant achievement. Their research shows great creativity combined

Contact: Sarah Voss or Megan Mastal
The Welch Foundation

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