University Chemistry ›› 2019, Vol. 34 ›› Issue (1): 1-6.doi: 10.3866/PKU.DXHX201811008

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A Brief Introduction to Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2018: Harnessing the Power of Evolution

Ying ZHOU,Liyuan ZHU,Peng ZOU*()   

  • Received:2018-11-12 Published:2019-01-16
  • Contact: Peng ZOU
  • Supported by:


In living organisms, protein functions are constantly evolving over generations throughout the history. Through iterative rounds of genetic mutations and natural selection of fit phenotypes, protein functions have been gradually optimized. This process could be mimicked and even greatly accelerated in the laboratory, when the selection pressure is directly applied to biomolecules of interest, which forms the basis of a technique called directed evolution. The Nobel Prize in chemistry 2018 was awarded jointly to Frances Arnold, George Smith and Gregory P. Winter for their pioneering contributions to the development and applications of directed evolution. Here we briefly review the history of this technique and its impact on renewable energy and pharmaceutical industry.

Key words: Directed evolution, Enzyme, Antibody, Phage display, Nobel Prize in chemistry