Another prestigious prize for Ben Feringa

RUG chemist Ben Feringa has won the prestigious Chemistry for the Future Solvay prize. He will receive 300,000 euros in recognition of his scientific breakthroughs, including the molecular motor. 

The Solvay prize is being awarded for only the second time this year by Queen Mathilde of Belgium, but it already has a reputation comparable to the Dutch Heineken prizes from KNAW. It’s not for nothing that the jury consists of two Nobel prize winners and a former chairperson for the jury for the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

‘I am very happy about it’, Feringa says. ‘The prize is awarded to a person who has made a fundamental contribution to chemistry. If they say that about you, then of course that’s a real honour. But it’s also a great recognition of my team and the many dozens of often young researchers who have been working in my lab all these years.’

Nobel prize

This is yet another prize among many for Feringa, who is generally seen as one of the most important chemists in the world and a potential candidate for the Nobel prize. In 1999, he had a breakthrough with the discovery of the ‘molecular motor’, a molecule that revolves under the influence of light. In 2011 came a molecular ‘automobile’. He hopes that his discoveries can be used to deliver medication via the bloodstream to its intended destination. Just this week, it was made known that American researchers have developed a ‘molecular submarine‘ based upon Feringa’s discovery.

He won the Spinoza prize in 2004, was appointed Akademiehoogleraar (Academy professor) in 2008 and received the Lilly European Distinguished Science Award and the Marie Curie Medal – the highest distinction from the Polish Chemical Society for chemists outside of Poland – in 2013. In September 2014, he was given the Cope Scholar Award from the American Chemical Society, the largest scientific organisation in the world. 

The UK will have an interview with Ben Feringa next week.