University of Missouri Professor Emeritus George Smith and his fellow Nobel laureates in Chemistry, Physics and Economic Sciences discussed working on projects larger than themselves and some of their “aha” moments during a Friday morning press conference.
The laureates also touched on the importance of collaboration in the scientific community. Smith shares the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with two other scientists. Professor Frances Arnold was awarded half the prize for her work on the directed evolution of enzymes.
Smith shares his half of the award with Sir Gregory Winter, who used phage display for the evolution of antibodies with the goal of creating new pharmaceuticals. He and his co-laureates in Chemistry agreed that the vitality of the community relies on working off of each other’s research.
“I thought it was great work at the time, so I was aware of it, but it was only really that it helped us solve the problem of how to select our repertoires,” Winter said. “George had shown that you could make peptide repertoires on the phage. We thought, ‘could we use them to put antibodies on the phage?’”
Smith and Winter had only met once before the announcement of the joint award. Smith said the combination of their research created a particular bond.
“You don’t have to have personal connections to be heavily influenced and to influence other people,” Smith said. “I think both of us are intimately connected to each other through our work.”
Smith’s docket for the rest of Friday includes conversations with fellow chemists and biologists at a local university and a rehearsal for tomorrow’s guest lecture.