Priestley Medal 2024 for Carolyn R. Bertozzi

Priestley Medal 2024 for Carolyn R. Bertozzi

Author: ChemistryViews (Photo: Christopher Michel, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International)

Carolyn R. Bertozzi, Professor at Stanford University, CA, USA, has been awarded the 2024 Priestley Medal, the highest honor of the American Chemical Society (ACS). The medal is awarded annually to recognize outstanding contributions to chemistry.

Carolyn R. Bertozzi is honored “for pioneering research in bioorthogonal reactions and their applications in studying living organisms and developing therapeutics, and for mentoring a generation of outstanding chemists.” The award was presented at the National Awards Ceremony held in conjunction with the 2024 ACS Spring Meeting & Exposition.

In addition to her outstanding research and the 2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Carolyn Bertozzi is known for emphasizing the importance of inclusivity in science. She has often spoken about her personal challenges as a woman and lesbian entering the field at a time when opportunities for underrepresented groups were emerging. She is also recognized as a great mentor and collaborator to many.



Carolyn Bertozzi’s contributions to bioorthogonal chemistry are fundamental in the field of chemical biology.

She took click chemistry to a new level by pioneering its application in living organisms to map glycans on cell surfaces. By introducing a chemical handle, specifically an azide, to cell glycans, she facilitated the attachment of fluorescent molecules for mapping. Because the azide does not affect the cells, it can be introduced into living organisms.

Bertozzi further advanced the field by developing a copper-free click reaction, called the strain-promoted alkyne-azide cycloaddition. This is based on the observation that azides and alkynes can react without the aid of copper when the alkyne is forced into a ring-shaped chemical structure.

Bertozzi’s bioorthogonal reactions take place without disrupting the normal chemistry of the cell. These reactions are widely used to study cells and track biological processes, including improving the targeting of anticancer drugs in clinical trials.

Bertozzi has also made important discoveries in basic glycobiology and founded numerous companies.


Career and Awards

Carolyn Bertozzi, born in 1966 in the USA, 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 in cellular immunology at UC San Francisco, USA, she joined the faculty at UC Berkeley in 1996. In 2015, she moved to Stanford University. She is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Chemistry, Professor of Chemical and Systems Biology and of Radiology, and an Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Among the 2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and 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, and the Arthur C. Cope Award from the American Chemical Society (ACS) in 2017. She is a Fellow of the U.S. National Academy of Inventors and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (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.

Selected Publications

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