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Ei-ichi Negishi, who earned his doctoral degree in chemistry at Penn in 1963, received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Wednesday.

Negishi is the seventh recipient of the Nobel Prize linked to Penn’s Chemistry Department.

George Smith, a 1955 Penn alumnus, was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics last year.

Negishi shares the prize with Richard Heck from the University of Delaware and Akira Suzuki, a retired professor from Hokkaido University in Japan. The three were recognized for their achievement in making advances in palladium-catalyzed cross coupling.

This method is used today in the pharmaceutical industry to make drugs such as naproxen, an anti-inflammatory drug, as well as certain asthma drugs, according to a Nobel Prize press release.

In the past, Chemistry Department Chairman Gary Molander said that many pharmaceuticals were “derived from stuff in nature, such as penicillin,” and that the method developed by Negishi and his colleagues has not only advanced the pharmaceutical industry but also the agricultural and the chemical industries. The method creates new ways to join organic materials by using the metal palladium to help them bind.

Molander said the Chemistry Department’s success with the Nobel Prize “speaks to the quality of the program and the students we have at Penn as well as the school as a whole.”

Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Rebecca Bushnell agreed with Molander. “This award brings honor to the department, recognizing its prominence in research, and to the faculty that have been so instrumental in educating such outstanding and innovative scientists,” she wrote in an e-mail.

Negishi is the Herbert C. Brown Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at Purdue University.

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