ISCB CELEBRATES KARPLUS, LEVITT, WARSHEL FOR 2013 NOBEL PRIZE
The International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB) celebrates the recognition of Professors Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt, and Arieh Warshel with the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Karplus, affiliated with the Université de Strasbourg and Harvard University, Levitt of Stanford University, and Warshel of the University of Southern California were recognized “for the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems.”
Karplus, Levitt, and Warshel developed computer models in the 1970s that were seminal to the formation of computational systems that can simulate and predict chemical processes. These computer models were uniquely powerful because they were able to apply both quantum physics, which was needed for understanding atomic-level reactions, and classical Newtonian physics, which was essential to modeling the structures of large macro-molecules crucial for life.
Genomes contain the blueprint for all parts of life’s machinery. Proteins comprise this essential machinery, and are formed by the assembly of amino acids into chains. In water, many proteins rapidly collapse from stretched out chains into unique three-dimensional (3D) structures through a process referred to as protein folding. The intricate details of these 3D structures are required for proteins to function. The methods developed by Karplus, Levitt and Warshel have been vital to understanding how proteins fold and function, and their work has also provided essential foundations for the field of computational biology. The 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry affirms the coming of age of a field that bridges the material and life sciences.
Since the 1970s, Levitt has continuously been a strong pillar, visionary, and supporter of the growing field of computational biology. Like his co-laureates, Karplus and Warshel, he succeeded in the quest to move from the atomic and subatomic phenomena involved in chemical reactions to providing computational methods that are able to predict static and dynamical aspects of 3D structure for protein molecules with thousands to millions of atoms.
Levitt’s research has been essential to establishing the legitimacy and validity of computational biology, and he is a respected scientist within the ISCB community. In 2009, at ISMB/ECCB in Stockholm, Sweden, the 3Dsig: Structural Bioinformatics & Computational Biophysics Satellite Meeting hosted Levitt as the EMBO Plenary Lecture where he gave an illuminating talk on the protien universe.
Levitt is an inspiring role model within the computational biology community who advocates for the good that science can bring to society. His enthusiasm and humility persist in the face of this recognition, as he stated in his own words, “The Nobel is recognition and it's fun to get it, and it's good for the university, it's good for Israel and it's good for our science. Levitt also told Associated Press, “It’s sort of nice in more general terms to see that computational science, computational biology is being recognized.” He added, “It’s become a very large field and it’s always in some ways been the poor sister, or the ugly sister, to experimental biology.”
ISCB is grateful to all three laureates for all that they did to strengthen the field of computational biology and is looking forward to their continued contributions to excellence in science.
The International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB) - www.iscb.org - has been the first and continues to be the only society representing computational biology and bioinformatics on a worldwide scale. ISCB serves a global community of over 3,000 scientists dedicated to advancing the scientific understanding of living systems through computation. It convenes the world’s experts and future leaders in top conferences, is the host of the Intelligent Systems in Molecular Biology (ISMB) Conference, and partners with publications that promote discovery and expand access to computational biology and bioinformatics. It delivers valuable information about training, education, employment, and relevant news. ISCB also provides an influential voice on government and scientific policies that are important to its members and benefit the public.
About 3Dsig: Structural Bioinformatics & Computational Biophysics:
3Dsig, a Satellite Meeting of the ISMB conference, focused on structural bioinformatics and computational biophysics and has become the largest meeting in this growing field.
In addition to keynotes, our diverse program will include talks selected from submitted abstracts, our traditional after dinner speaker, daily discussion on important topics to this community and hybrid laptop/poster sessions. Simply put, 3DSIG is the most comprehensive conference in the field and should not be missed by anyone using macromolecular structure to computationally unravel the mysteries of living systems.
Over the years, 3DSig has brought the leaders of the field of Structural Bioinformatics and Computational Biophysics in an ideal environment for personal contacts and discussions. For more information about 3Dsig, please visit our website http://bcb.med.usherbrooke.ca/3dsig.
Diane E. Kovats, Executive Director