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Jacqueline Barton wins 2023 Welch Award in Chemistry

Caltech professor emerita wins $500,000 prize for her work uncovering charge transport in DNA

by Laura Howes
August 22, 2023

Jacqueline Barton
Credit: Courtesy of ACS Northeastern Section
Jacqueline Barton

The Welch Foundation has announced that Jacqueline K. Barton has won the 2023 Robert A. Welch Award in Chemistryfor her work using “inorganic coordination complexes to target local DNA structures and to study charge transport through DNA.” The annual award aims to encourage and recognize basic chemical research “for the benefit of humankind.”

The award is a “tremendous honor” Barton, professor emerita at the California Institute of Technology, says in an email to C&EN. “This award is very much because of the efforts of my creative and committed coworkers,” she adds.

“Prior to the work of Professor Barton, the electrical conductivity properties of DNA were largely unknown and not well-understood,” Catherine J. Murphy, chair of the Welch Foundation Scientific Advisory Board, says in a statement. “Through her dedicated and extensive research, Jackie was one of the first people to demonstrate the ability of DNA to support surprisingly efficient charge transport— moreover, her lab has made pivotal discoveries that suggest that this charge-transport ability of DNA may be a fundamental function of DNA.” The prize comprises $500,000 and a gold medallion..


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