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Harvard Scholar to Receive Coveted Kyoto Award in Japan

By The CRIMSON Staff

Mallinckrodt Professor of Chemistry George M. Whitesides was recently named a recipient of a prestigious international prize for his academic and commercial research in nanotechnology.

In November, the Inamori Foundation will present Whitesides with the Kyoto Prize—including a 20-karat gold medal, a diploma and 50 million yen (about $400,000) in Kyoto, Japan this November. The foundation awards three such prizes annually to individuals who have made significant contributions to the development of mankind in the fields of advanced technology, basic sciences and the arts and philosophy.

“It is my hope that these Kyoto Prizes will encourage balanced development of both our scientific and our spiritual sides, and hence provide new impetus toward the structuring of new philosophical paradigms,” said Foundation President Kazuo Inamori.

Whitesides pioneered developments in organic molecular self-assembly that have led to advances in material sciences and technology. His research in the field has been used to build devices millionths of an inch in size.

These tiny compositions have potential applications in electronics, ultra-sensitive probes and bio-molecular mimicry, which is currently being used to replicate proteins, genes and nerves.

Whitesides is credited with developing the first methods of altering molecules in the cells of mammals, and Whitesides’ contributions to organic molecular self-assembly are currently being implemented in constructing transistors that will aid in the development of smaller, faster computers. In addition, molecular self-assembly could potentially be used to develop minute, ultra-sensitive probes that will have the ability to pass through blood and search for disease.

Whitesides is a former chair of the Harvard chemistry department. In addition to being named a recipient of the Kyoto Prize, he was also named a recipient of the Pittsburgh Analytical Chemistry Award earlier this year.


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