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Heinrich Emanuel Merck Award goes to Japanese nanotechnology scientist

22-04-2004: Merck KGaA, based in Darmstadt, Germany is the sponsor of the Heinrich Emanuel Merck Award for the promotion of analytical chemistry research. The award is named after the company founder and conferred as a mark of distinction on chemists who have contributed to developing groundbreaking new analytical chemistry methods.

This year's Heinrich Emanuel Merck Award for Analytical Chemistry goes to Professor Yoshinobu Baba, 45, a professor of physical chemistry at the University of Tokushima, Japan. His main area of research is new technologies for decoding DNA, protein and sugar chains. Professor Baba received the award for the paper entitled "Nanospheres for DNA separation chips" published in Nature Biotechnology, 2004, 22 (3). The paper describes a novel nanobiotechnology-based method of analysis that enables the high-speed, high-resolution separation of a broad range of DNA fragments. In experimental use, the nanosphere solution separated DNA fragments in up to 15 000 base pairs at high speed and with high resolution using microchip electrophoresis. In addition, the extremely low-viscosity nanosphere solution is easy to handle and can be used for on-the-spot DNA analysis with no need for a special laboratory.

Professor Baba's report demonstrates that nanomaterial from molecular nanotechnology has applications for chip-based DNA separation. Baba's insights open up the prospect of a new area of scientific research combining the strengths of nanotechnology and biotechnology.

The Heinrich Emanuel Merck Award will be presented at a ceremony to be held on September 5, 2004 at the Euroanalysis XIII conference in Salamanca, Spain.

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