"As a boy growing up in the late 1940s, K. Barry Sharpless fell under the spell of the coelacanth. The lungfish-like creature was believed to have been extinct for 6 million years until researchers pulled one out of the waters off South Africa in 1938. Sharpless fished obsessively in the rivers of his native New Jersey and never found any archeologic creature. But in the end he did find virtual coelacanths--biochemical treasures that took nature eons to produce.
Sharpless has produced some of the most important breakthroughs of chemistry in the past 30 years. Scientists long knew that some medicinal molecules come in mirror-image forms, only one of which is effective or only one of which is safe. Sharpless discovered several reactions that could produce just the useful form, an innovation that won him the 2001 Nobel Prize in chemistry. That work led to mass-production of heart pills, antibiotics and pain medicines."
Above quote from the articles in this month's Forbes: