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Chemistry Professor Koji Nakanishi Wins 2003 King Faisal Science Prize

By Joseph Kennedy

Koji Nakanishi

Koji Nakanishi, Centennial Professor of Chemistry , has been named a recipient of the prestigious King Faisal International Prize in Science.

A senior faculty whose research in organic chemistry is internationally recognized, Nakanishi is the author of 750 papers. The King Faisal Foundation cited Nakanishi's wide field of scientific accomplishment as criteria for the award.

"His research in biologically active natural products had exceptional scientific and economic value," the Foundation noted. "He has established the properties and elucidated the structures of many chemical compounds including antibiotics, carcinogenic materials and anticancer products."

Nakanishi's recent research concentrates on the interaction of light with the molecules responsible for vision. These studies are likely to accelerate the development of a treatment for macular degeneration, which affects many elderly people and leads to the loss of sight.

"Koji is an undisputed leader in the isolation and structure determination of biologically important natural products. He has designed unique methodologies for structure determination on submicroscale of diverse organic molecules. His methods have promoted natural product studies to a higher level," said Bruce J. Berne, Chairman and Higgins Professor of Chemistry. "In addition, his structure determination of over 250 compounds, many of which are new classes and/or endogenous, have had a huge impact in our understanding of nature and have opened new horizons in the student for the benefit of mankind."

Nakanishi was co-winner of the prize with Marion Fredrick Hawthorne, professor of chemistry at the University of California.

The King Faisal International Prize, considered one of the world's pre-eminent honors, is awarded annually in the fields of science, medicine, Arabic language and literature, Islamic studies and service to Islam. It is part of the King Faisal Foundation, Saudi Arabia's most prominent philanthropic organization.

Published: Jan 09, 2003
Last modified: Jan 07, 2003

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