2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Two Israeli citizens among the recipients


Profs. Arieh Warshel and Michael Levitt began their scientific collaboration in the 1960s at the Weizmann Institute of Science.
Profs. Arieh Warshel and Michael Levitt
Copyright: Wikipedia Commons
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2013 to Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel "for the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems".

In the 1970s, Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel laid the foundation for the powerful programs that are used to understand and predict chemical processes. Computer models mirroring real life have become crucial for most advances made in chemistry today.

  • Arieh Warshel
  • Arieh Warshel, U.S. and Israeli citizen. Born 1940 in Kibbutz Sde-Nahum, Israel. Ph.D. 1969 from Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel. Distinguished Professor, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

  • Michael Levitt
  • Michael Levitt, U.S., British and Israeli citizen. Born 1947 in Pretoria, South Africa. Ph.D. 1971 from University of Cambridge, UK. Robert W. and Vivian K. Cahill Professor in Cancer Research, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA.

The work of Karplus, Levitt and Warshel is ground-breaking in that they managed to make Newton’s classical physics work side-by-side with the fundamentally different quantum physics which require enormous computing power.  For instance, in simulations of how a drug couples to its target protein in the body, the computer performs quantum theoretical calculations on those atoms in the target protein that interact with the drug. The rest of the large protein is simulated using less demanding classical physics.

Today the computer is just as important a tool for chemists as the test tube. Simulations are so realistic that they predict the outcome of traditional experiments.

Profs. Arieh Warshel and Michael Levitt began their scientific collaboration in the 1960s at the Weizmann Institute of Science, where Warshel was a doctoral student. They worked with the late Prof. Shneior Lifson in the Chemical Physics Department. Together, they developed a computer program that ran on the Institute’s Golem computer – a powerful device in those days – to model molecules.

President Shimon Peres: The exceptional determination demonstrated by Aryeh Warshel and Michael Levitt has lead them to ground-breaking findings worthy of the prestigious Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

President Peres congratulated Professor Arieh Warshel: "I want to congratulate you on behalf of the State of Israel and the Jewish people and every person who hopes to overcome sickness and suffering because of your work. I am sure that your breakthrough will lead to advances in medicine and further scientific breakthroughs." President Peres asked Professor Warshel to convey his congratulations to the scientists who worked with him and with whom he is sharing the Nobel Prize, Professor Michael Levitt and Professor Martin Karplus.

Prof. Warshel related that the research for which he has been awarded the Nobel Prize was carried out while he was in Israel.

Prime Minister Netanyahu: "We are proud of you and proud of the people who were at the Technion and the Weizmann Institute of Science and moved them forward."

Nobel Prize awarded December 2013

At the Nobel Reception held in Stockholm in December for 2013 laureates Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel Arieh Warshel, Prime Minsiter Benjamin Netanyahu phoned Communications Minister Gilad Erdan in order to speak to and congratulate Professor Levitt.

PM Netanyahu phones to congratulate Professor Levitt

Profs. Arieh Warshel and Michael Levitt
  Photos: Courtesy Israel Embassy, Stockholm
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