The American Institute of Chemists (AIC) Gold Medal recognizes extraordinary accomplishments in chemistry or chemical engineering in the United States.
First presented in 1926, previous winners include Nobel laureates Glenn T. Seaborg, Herbert C. Brown, Elizabeth Blackburn, and Dudley Herschbach, as well as renowned researchers Chad A. Mirkin, Mary Lowe Good, Steven J. Lippard, Jacqueline Barton, and George M. Whitesides.
The AIC Gold Medal has been presented jointly with the Science History Institute since 2003. This year’s medal will be presented on Saturday, June 10, 2023, as part of Curious Histories Fest, our free annual celebration of science, history, exploration, and experimentation.
2023 Medalist: K. Barry Sharpless
Courtesy of K. Barry Sharpless
Chemist K. Barry Sharpless’s 50-plus year research career has been devoted to finding new tools and better general methods for exploring the chemical universe. He is the W.M. Keck Professor of Chemistry at Scripps Research, one of the four founding members of the medical research institute’s chemistry department, and a principal investigator at the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology.
He received his PhD in 1968 from Stanford University followed by postdoctoral studies at Stanford and Harvard universities. He then served on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford chemistry faculties before moving to Scripps in 1990.
Sharpless most recently shared the 2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his groundbreaking research on “click chemistry,” the method he developed for easily and reliably discovering new chemical function. He also shared the 2001 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his chirally catalysed oxidation reactions. In addition to two Nobel Prizes, Sharpless has received countless other awards and honors for his foundational work in the field, including the 2022 Royal Society of Chemistry’s Sir Derek Barton Gold Medal.
Sharpless is also known for the discovery of CuAAC (copper catalysed azide-alkyne cycloaddition), a near-perfect click reaction. His lab later discovered SuFEx (sulfur-fluoride exchange), another near-perfect reaction for click chemistry.
Today, the goal of the Sharpless Lab is to increase the rate of discovery of new chemicals with crucially needed properties via rapid assembly of small modules through a few ideal linkage reactions. A recent collaboration with the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory produced a new polymer-based device that efficiently handles record amounts of energy while withstanding extreme temperatures and electric fields.
Previous Winners of the AIC Gold Medal
- Brian Hoffmann (2022)
- Peter J. Stang (2021)
- Henry F. Schaefer III (2019)
- E. Gerald Meyer (2018)
- Stephen Lippard (2017)
- Chad Mirkin (2016)
- Jacqueline Barton (2015)
- Ronald Breslow (2014)
- John D. Roberts (2013)
- Elizabeth Blackburn (2012)
- Dudley Herschbach (2011)
- Robert Grubbs (2010)
- Oliver Smithies (2009)
- Paul Berg (2008)
- Walter Gilbert (2008)
- George Whitesides (2007)
- Roald Hoffmann (2006)
- Robert L. McNeil Jr. (2005)
- Carl Djerassi (2004)
- Ralph Hirschmann (2003)
For a full list of winners of the AIC Gold Medal going back to 1926, visit the AIC’s website.
About the American Institute of Chemists (AIC)
From its earliest days in 1923 to the present, the American Institute of Chemists has fostered the advancement of the chemical profession in the United States.
The AIC has a corresponding dedication “to promote and protect the public welfare; to establish and maintain standards of practice for these professions; and to promote the professional experience through certification as to encourage competent and efficient service.”
Our annual celebration of science, history, exploration, and experimentation features the presentation of three distinguished awards.
The Institute’s preeminent award honors individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the material sciences.