Nobel Prize in Chemistry Awarded to Two Israeli-Americans

To Israelis Michael Levitt, and Professors Arieh Warshel, also American citizens, share Nobel with colleague Martin Karplus.



Two Israeli scientists who emigrated to the U.S. on Tuesday were awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, in a ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden.

Professor Arieh Warshel receiving the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Stockholm, Oct. 10, 2013.

Professor Arieh Warshel receiving the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Stockholm, Oct. 10, 2013.

Professors Arieh Warshel and Michael Levitt, who completed their Ph.D.s at Israel’s Weizmann Institute, are sharing the prize of 8 million crowns ($1.25 million) with Prof. Martin Karplus for their development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems.

All three winners are American citizens, but also hold dual citizenship. Warshel is a U.S. and Israeli citizen affiliated with the University of Southern California in Los Angeles; Levitt is a U.S., Israeli and British citizen and a professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine; and Karplus, who fled the Nazis as a child with his family, is affiliated with the University of Strasbourg, France, and Harvard University.


Michael Levitt after receiving his Nobel Prize from Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf.- Photo: AP

When announcing its decision to award the three the Nobel in October, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said their research has helped scientists develop programs that unveil chemical processes such as the purification of exhaust fumes or the photosynthesis in green leaves. Moreover, their work made it possible to yield models that reconcile between Newtonian physics and quantum physics.

“It’s like wondering how a clock really works,” said Warshel in an interview to Swedish press. “Basically, our program enables a computer to take a protein structure and analyze exactly how it does what it does.”

Chemistry was the third of this year’s Nobel prizes to be awarded, after medicine and physics. The latter prize went to physicists Francois Ebglert and Peter W. Higgs, for their work on the Higgs boson theory.

The prizes for achievements in science, literature and peace were first awarded in 1901 in accordance with the will of businessman and dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel.


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