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Professor David O’Hagan has been awarded the 2018 Prix Henri Moissan

School of Chemistry, Purdie Building
School of Chemistry, Purdie Building © Laurence Winram

‌Professor David O’Hagan of the School of Chemistry has been awarded the 2018 Prix Henri Moissan for his work in fluorine chemistry.

The Prize, which is awarded every three years by the Fondation de la Maison de la Chimie, was created by the French chemistry community to commemorate Henri Moissan’s isolation of elemental fluorine in 1886, an achievement for which he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1906.

The prize winner is selected by poll of around one hundred international specialists in fluorine chemistry and the winner is elected after two rounds of the ballot.

Professor O’Hagan (pictured left) said: “I am absolutely delighted to have been selected as the Henri Moissan awardee. It is the fluorine chemists’ Nobel Prize! My lab isolated an enzyme (biological catalyst) from a bacterium that converts inorganic fluoride to organic fluorine.

“The fluorinase, as it is known, remains the only metabolic enzyme that can achieve this. We are now using the enzyme as a catalyst for clinical imaging agents for positron emission tomography using the fluorine-18 isotope.

“The fluorinase is a clear highlight, but we are involved in many other fluorine chemistry projects too which have added to the reputation of the lab. The ongoing work of my students and postdocs and with some fantastic collaborators over many years enabled this. Their dedication and enthusiasm has been inspiring and their achievements have gone well beyond what I could have imagined.

‌“I feel like a football manager lifting a trophy on behalf of a wonderfully talented team.”

‌The Prix Henri Moissan is presented every three years during the International Symposium on Fluorine Chemistry (ISFC), which will take place in Oxford in July, and also at a ceremony at the Maison de la Chemie in Paris in November, where Professor O’Hagan will receive a diploma, a medal with Henri Moissan’s portrait (pictured right) and €15,000.

More information about the Prix Henri Moissan can be found on the Fondation de la Maison de la Chimie website.

Issued by the Communications Office, University of St Andrews. Contact Steve Bargeton, Head of News & Public Affairs, on 01334 467310, 07802 376 860 or steve.bargeton@st-andrews.ac.uk or the Press Office on 01334 46 2530 or proffice@st-andrews.ac.uk.

Photo captions:
School of Chemistry – Purdie Building © Laurence Winram
Professor David O’Hagan
Henri Moissan medal

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