from the November 2013 issue

Two Israelis win Nobel Chemistry prize

Arieh Warshel and Michael Levitt, both formerly of the Weizmann Institute and now living in the US, won the prize together with Martin Karplus.

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2013 has been awarded to two Israelis living in the US - Michael Levitt, and Arieh Warshel, who won the prize together with Martin Karplus, for their work on the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems. "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," said the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in its announcement of the award.

Levitt and Warshel were both once researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot. Prof. Warshel, an Israeli and US citizen was born in 1940 at Kibbutz Sde Nahum and earned his Ph.D. in 1969 from the Weizmann Institute. He currently works at the University of Southern California. Prof. Levitt, an Israeli, US and British citizen, was born in 1947 in Pretoria. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in 1971, and served as a professor of chemical physics at the Weizmann Institute from 1979 to 1987. He currently works in cancer research at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Prof. Martin Karplus, (83) a US and Austrian citizen, currently works at Harvard University and the Université de Strasbourg. His Ph.D. is from the California Institute of Technology.

"This year's Nobel Laureates in chemistry took the best from both worlds and devised methods that use both classical and quantum physics. 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 physic," states the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. "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."

The three laureates will share the $1.25 million prize at the award ceremony in Stockholm on December 20.

Reprinted from the Israel High-Tech & Investment Report November 2013

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