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Dutch chemist wins prestigious science award

Dutch chemist professor Jacques van Boom has won the Akzo Nobel science award in recognition of his work in the field of organic synthesis of biomolecules. The board of the Dutch society for sciences will present the professor with his 45,000 euro prize at a ceremony on 31 Oct...
Dutch chemist professor Jacques van Boom has won the Akzo Nobel science award in recognition of his work in the field of organic synthesis of biomolecules. The board of the Dutch society for sciences will present the professor with his 45,000 euro prize at a ceremony on 31 October 2000.

This is the 30th anniversary of the annual science award, organised by Akzo Nobel, a multinational organisation operating in the fields of pharmaceuticals, coatings and chemicals. An independent jury, which confers alternately between the Netherlands and Sweden, picked the professor from a plethora of eminent scientists from around the world. 'He is a scientist of international stature in the field of organic synthesis of biomolecules and one of the Netherlands's most eminent chemists,' they said.

The professor, whose qualities as a teacher and a scientist have been recognised through the formation of a whole school of thought dubbed 'van Boom Chemistry' is delighted to receive the award, 'I'm very happy,' he told CORDIS News, 'I'm 63 and it's nice to receive recognition for my work'. Has he decided what to do with the prize money yet? 'Well, it's a personal prize, so I'm still thinking,' he beams.

The professor might want to channel some of his winnings back into his research, although he has already successfully secured funding from the European Commission's Fifth RTD Framework programme to continue his pioneering work on the synthesis of complex biomolecules. Based at Leiden University in the Netherlands, the professor's research team is part of a consortium including partners from the UK, Sweden, Finland, Germany and France, which will be financed by the Quality of Life programme. Their work focuses particularly on nucleic acids and carbohydrates, and according to the Akzo Nobel prize jury, represents a considerable advancement in the understanding of DNA.

Professor van Boom is keen to encourage young researchers to work in this field. 'Research on biomolecules provides tools to solve problems in organic chemistry, which is particularly interesting with finalisation of the human genome project just around the corner,' he says. He is also a supporter of the concept of a 'European Research Area' (ERA), as proposed by the European Commissioner for Research, Mr Philippe Busquin. The concept of mobilising scientific talent and resources around Europe at the core of the philosophy of an ERA is an 'excellent idea', says professor van Boom. 'Working with young people from across Europe generates a rewarding and nice atmosphere - and you can learn different languages too. There is a noticeable difference in educational level among students of different nationalities, but these can be overcome,' he adds.
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Source: Akzo Nobel

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