2022 Wolf Prize in Chemistry Announced

2022 Wolf Prize in Chemistry Announced

Author: ChemistryViews

The Wolf Prize in Chemistry for 2022 is awarded to Bonnie L. Bassler, Princeton University, NJ, USA, Carolyn R. Bertozzi, Stanford University, CA, USA, and Benjamin F. Cravatt III, Scripps Research, La Jolla, CA, USA, “for their seminal contributions to understanding the chemistry of cellular communication and inventing chemical methodologies to study the role of carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins in such biological processes.”

The Wolf Prizes are international awards honoring scientists and artists “for their achievements in the interest of mankind and friendly relations among peoples”. The scientific categories of the prize are medicine, agriculture, mathematics, chemistry, and physics. The Wolf Prizes in Physics and Chemistry are often considered the most prestigious awards in those fields after the Nobel Prize. The Wolf Prizes have been awarded by the Wolf Foundation since 1978 and come with USD 100,000 in prize money.

Bonnie L. Bassler

Bonnie L. Bassler is awarded the Wolf Prize for her work in elucidating the role of chemical communication between bacteria. She has made important discoveries revealing how quorum sensing is used by bacteria both for virulence and for communicating across species.

Quorum sensing involves the production, release, and detection of chemical signal molecules called autoinducers. This process enables populations of bacteria to regulate gene expression, and therefore, behavior, on a community-wide scale. It is widespread in the bacterial world, and insight into this process is fundamental to clinical and industrial microbiology. Therapeutics that interfere with quorum sensing may provide ways of combating drug-resistant infections.


Bonnie L. Basler
studied biochemistry at the University of California, Davis, USA, and at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA, where she received her Ph.D. in 1990. She performed postdoctoral research at the Agouron Institute, La Jolla, CA, USA, and joined the faculty of Princeton University in 1994. Today, she serves as Squibb Professor in Molecular Biology and chair of the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton University and as Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. Bassler is an advocate for diversity in the sciences, and she is actively involved in and committed to educating lay people in science.

Among many other honors, Bassler was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2002, the Theobald Smith Society Waksman Award in 2003, the American Society for Microbiology’s Eli Lilly Investigator Award for fundamental contributions to microbiological research in 2006, Princeton University’s President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2008, the Wiley Prize in Biomedical Science in 2009, and the UNESCO-L’Oreal Woman in Science for North America in 2021. She was elected to the American Academy of Microbiology in 2002 and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). In 2012, Bassler was also elected to the Royal Society and to the American Philosophical Society. Bassler was the President of the American Society for Microbiology in 2010 and 2011.

Carolyn R. Bertozzi

Carolyn R. Bertozzi is awarded the Wolf Prize for pioneering biorthogonal chemistry and for understanding the glycocalyx and its roles in both health and disease, allowing for bioimaging, chemoproteomics, and in-vivo drug delivery.

Crucial intercellular processes, such as signal transduction and immune protection, are mediated by cell-surface glycosylation, which involves large biomolecules, including glycoproteins and glycosphingolipids. Bertozzi’s research has focused on profiling changes in cell-surface glycosylation. She invented the field of biorthogonal chemistry, which allows researchers to chemically modify molecules within living systems without interfering with native biochemical processes. Using biorthogonal chemistry, she has made fundamental breakthroughs in the understanding of the glycocalyx, the heavily glycosylated cell surface found on nearly every cell which serves as a mediator for cell-cell interactions. Bertozzi extensively commercialized innovative technologies for both clinical and research applications. Equally significant are her contributions to mentorship and diversity in the fields of chemistry and chemical biology.


Carolyn R. Bertozzi
studied chemistry at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA, and at the University of California (UC) Berkeley, USA, where she received her Ph.D. in 1993. After postdoctoral work at UC San Francisco, USA, in the field of cellular immunology, she joined the faculty of UC Berkeley in 1996. In 2015, Bertozzi joined Stanford University. Today, she serves as Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Chemical & Systems Biology and Radiology there, as well as an Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Among many other honors, Carolyn Bertozzi has received the Ernst Schering Prize from the Schering Foundation in 2007, the Lemelson-MIT Prize from the Lemelson Foundation and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2010, the Heinrich Wieland Prize from the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation in 2012, the Arthur C. Cope Award from the American Chemical Society (ACS) in 2017, and the 2020 Chemistry for the Future Solvay Prize. She is a Fellow of the U.S. National Academy of Inventors and of the AAAS, as well as a Member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.

Benjamin F. Cravatt III

Benjamin F. Cravatt III is awarded the Wolf Prize for developing activity-based protein profiling, which is a powerful and widely used chemical proteomic strategy to characterize enzyme function in native biological systems. He used this approach to characterize numerous enzymes which play critical roles in human biology and disease, including the endocannabinoid hydrolases, whose lipid products regulate communication between cells.

Cravatt pioneered an approach to identify protein classes based on their activity. His multidisciplinary approach generates tools and models required to assign molecular, cellular, and physiological functions to enzymes and assess their suitability as therapeutic targets. His work on the endocannabinoid system has radically changed the landscape of proteome analysis by demonstrating how innovative chemical methods can be used to broadly and deeply investigate protein function directly in native biological systems. Activity-Based Protein Profiling (ABPP), pioneered by Cravatt, uses chemical probes to directly measure enzyme function.

Benjamin F. Cravatt III studied history and biological science at Stanford University, CA, USA, and macromolecular and cellular Structure and chemistry at Scripps Research, where he received his Ph.D. in 1996. He served as Assistant Professor for Cell Biology at Scripps Research in 1996–2001 and as Assistant Professor for Chemistry there in 2000–2001. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2001 and to Full Professor for Cell Biology and Chemistry in 2004. From 2007 to 2017, he served as Professor and Chairman for Chemical Physiology at Scripps Research and in 2017 and 2018 as Co-Chair for Molecular Medicine there.

Among many other honors, Benjamin F. Cravatt III has received the Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry from the American Chemical Society (ACS) in 2004, the Irving Sigal Young Investigator Award from the Protein Society in 2007, the MERIT Award from the National Cancer Institute in 2009, the Sato Memorial International Award from the Pharmaceutical Society of Japan in 2015, and the Jeremy Knowles Award from the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) in 2019. He is a Member of the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.


Selected Publications by Bonnie L. Bassler

Selected Publications by Carolyn R. Bertozzi

Selected Publications by Benjamin F. Cravatt III

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