Greening Chemistry scientists, Professors Fernando Albericio and Beatriz Garcia De la Torre.

International Prize for Greening Chemistry

Leading UKZN scientists and internationally renowned pharmaceutical chemistry boffins, Professors Fernando Albericio and Beatriz Garcia De la Torre have been awarded $25,000 by the American Chemical Society (ACS) Green Chemistry Institute Pharmaceutical Roundtable (GCIPR) to advance green chemistry research in the pharmaceutical sciences.

The six recipients of the prize included four institutions from the United States, one from France and the Albericio and De la Torre team from UKZN. De la Torre broke the news to UKZN’s executive management with much excitement, ‘Prizes are always important, but in this case we are especially proud because this is recognition of our work carried out at UKZN regarding Greening the Solid-Phase Synthesis of Peptides approach.’

The scientists, who were initially based in Barcelona in Spain, joined UKZN in 2016. ‘This was one of our first projects when we moved to UKZN and we can say that our laboratory here, is the worldwide laboratory of reference in this area. In fact, we were able to coin the acronym GSPPS for Green Solid-Phase Peptide Synthesis,’ said De la Torre.

Albericio and De la Torre won the prize for their submission entitled, ‘Baroc, a Green a-Amino Protecting Group for Solid-Phase Peptide Synthesis.’ Thus far, their work in GSPPS has resulted in 13 manuscripts directly related to the field with further publications in the pipeline.

UKZN’s executive management were delighted with the news. Professor Busisiwe Ncama, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Health Sciences remarked, ‘Congratulations to the professors and the team. We are so proud of your achievement. May you keep growing from strength to strength.’

Dean and Head of the School of Chemistry and Physics, Professor Ross Robinson said, ‘This is fantastic news.’

According to the ACS GCIPR, the need for green and sustainable chemistry for use in the pharmaceutical and other chemical industries is increasingly critical due to the environmental challenges of the 21st century. The Roundtable is seeking to provide “ignition” funding for novel and innovative ideas that have the potential to provide sustainable solutions to chemistry and engineering problems relevant to the pharmaceutical industry, from discovery to manufacturing.

Words: MaryAnn Francis

Photograph: Supplied