03-11-2013

Feliu Maseras, reference in the Nobel Prize in Chemistry

A catalan, Dr. Feliu Maseras from the Instutut Català d’Investigació Química (ICIQ), has been cited in the documents published in the Nobel Foundation’s website  about the contributions to the study of multiscale methods, the subject of 2013 Chemical Nobel Prize. This year laureates are Martin Karplus , Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel for his research on the development of multiscale methods, based on the current computational chemistry.

Multiscale methods add another dimension to computational chemistry, as they use different methods for different regions of the same chemical system. The most typical case is the use of quantum methods, which are accurate but expensive, to describe a small region of the system, and a method of molecular mechanics, with less computational cost, for the entire system.

On its website, the Nobel Foundation has written: “The work behind this year’s Nobel Prize has been the starting point for both further theoretical developments of more accurate models and applied studies. Important contributions have been given not only by this year’s laureates but also by many others including J. Gao, F. Maseras and K. Morokuma, U.C. Sing and P. Kollman  and H. M. Senn and W. Thiel.”

The paper referred in the text is the article published by Maseres and Morokuma in the Journal of Computational Chemistry in 1995. Feliu Maseras had the pleasure of working with another of the great figures in the world of multiscale methods, Professor Morokuma. One of their joint research papers, the one that is mentioned in the description that has facilitated the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, deals with an adaptation of multiscale methods to facilitate its application in other chemistry fields, other than biochemistry, like for instance homogeneous catalysis. This is the second time that Professor Maseras is referenced in the Nobels. Professor Akira Suzuki, Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2010, also refers to an article by Professor Maseras during his Nobel Lecture at the University of Stockholm in December 8th, 2010.

ICIQ, along with institutions such as the Catalan Institute of Classical Archaeology, Institute of Food and Agricultural Research, Catalan Institute of Vine and Wine, Wine Technology Park, Hospital Joan XXIII or Chemistry Technology Centre of Catalonia, constitute the Campus of International Excellence Southern Catalonia ( CEICS ).

CEIS represents the strategic union of different organizations and structures involved in teaching, research, knowledge transfer and the productive sector in southern Catalonia. It aims to become an international benchmark in knowledge and competitiveness within the areas of chemistry and energy, nutrition and health, tourism, oenology, heritage and culture. It also seeks to become the heart of an authentic region of knowledge that can play a key role in the future growth of the region and in its productive network. The driving force behind this group is Rovira i Virgili University (URV). 1700 researchers work at campus, 1028 scientific articles have been published by them and 192 R&D projects have been awarded funding, a total of € 19 million. For example, the Wine Technology Park in Falset (Vitec) has launched a project to adapt the irrigation of vines to the type of soil, grape variety and the requirements of the oenologist, with a significant improvement in the quality of product.
But in the same field of Dr. Maseras, the spanish edition of the magazine “MIT Technology Review” has chosen Bernard Ollé, Chemical Engineering of URV, as a young innovator. In June 2007, the investment firm Puretech Ventures hired him in order to lead four new biotech companies that at present are working on the ability to modulate the microbiome to produce a new class of drugs to treat some diseases.

Elena Escubedo (Universitat de Barcelona)

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