Nobel Prize Sir Fraser Stoddart

Nobel Prize Laureate Sir Fraser Stoddart: Revolution in a lab

October 4, 2019

The chemistry of cosmetics has languished over the years. When most anti-aging creams and serums are applied to the skin, the products absorb quickly and their effectiveness peters out soon after.

During experiments with sugar-based molecules, Nobel Prize Laureate Sir Fraser Stoddart discovered a way to control a continuous, molecular release of cosmetic agents that would last 10 times longer than current products. By stacking the doughnut-shaped, sugar-based molecules, researchers found that they could form a “nanocube” superstructure, or “cube of cubes,” that could contain cosmetic agents within each.

Stoddart will talk about the process of taking that serendipitous discovery from the lab to co-founding a successful startup company called PanaceaNano. Next week, the company will launch its revolutionary skin-care line, Noble Panacea, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Knighthood and the Nobel Prize

Called “one of the world’s most innovative organic chemists,” Stoddart has spent four decades pushing the frontier of science. His 1991 development of a “rotaxane” led to innovations such as a molecular elevator, molecular muscle and molecule-based computer chip.

Stoddart grew up in Scotland, where he received his BSc, PhD and DSc from Edinburgh University. Stoddart has taught at Northwestern University since 2008, where he is currently a Board of Trustees Professor of Chemistry and director of the Center for the Chemistry of Integrated Systems. In a career studded with awards, the pinnacle was his 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, an award he shared with Jean-Pierre Sauvage and Ben Feringa. The Nobel committee lauded the trio for taking “molecular systems out of equilibrium’s stalemate and into energy-filled states in which their movements can be controlled.” Stoddart was named a knight bachelor in 2006 by Queen Elizabeth II.

The inaugural Kohn-Damrauer Endowed Chemistry Lectureship seminar will be held on October 15, 2019, from 6 to 7 p.m. in Student Commons Room 2600. The seminar is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be provided.