Early Wednesday morning, the Nobel committee announced a trio of winners for its chemistry prize: Sir Fraser Stoddart, from Scotland, Bernard Ferninga, of the Netherlands, and the Frenchman Jean-Pierre Sauvage. The three are furthering nano-machines, coined the committee as “the world’s smallest machines,” opening up the possibilities of molecule-sized machines that human operators can control in medical settings, among others.
Sauvage, as it turns out, is a mentor to Dr. Jacques Lux, an assistant professor of radiology at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Sauvage was who, as the committee noted, took “the first step towards a molecular machine.” He linked two ring-shaped molecules together in a chain in 1983. Fast forward to today, and there are hair-sized machines that may very well help repair damaged cells and deliver targeted drugs to areas in the body.
Lux is developing these sorts of technologies under the watchful eye of his mentor Sauvage. And he sent these words reflecting on the Nobel win:
Jean-Pierre has been a very inspiring person to me. From the moment he sat with me and told me about his research, I knew I wanted to do my PhD in his group. Jean-Pierre’s knowledge and creativity was impressive and he knew how to stir the curiosity of all the students working in his team. In addition to being a superb scientist, Jean-Pierre was a great mentor and always had his door open to discuss science with his students. I am so happy for him that he received the highest distinction possible in science after such beautiful work on molecular machines, and I will be forever grateful to have been part of this work.