Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Communities
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology Alumni Awarded Nobel Prize for Chemistry

Published: Monday, October 14, 2013
Last Updated: Monday, October 14, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Professor Michael Levitt, Professor Arieh Warshel and Professor Martin Karplus awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

This latest accolade takes the total number of Nobel Prizes awarded for work undertaken at the much-lauded Laboratory of Molecular Biology to 10 and the total number of prizes awarded to MRC-funded scientists to 21 in its 100 year history.
A key part of the Nobel Prize-winning research was undertaken at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB), in the Structural Studies Division, in the 1970s. Together the work of all three LMB alumni has been developed further and enables modern chemists to simulate complex chemical reactions on a computer. This ability has allowed for much deeper understanding of how chemical processes happen.
Michael Levitt came to LMB as a PhD student in 1968, having first met Arieh Warshel while working as a visitor at the Weizmann Institute, Israel. At the Weizmann, Michael had become interested in protein conformation analysis and had written a general computer programme for studying the conformations of small molecules. He realised that the same programme could form the basis of a system for studying larger molecules. It was this system that Michael developed at LMB during his PhD work.
Martin Karplus, who had a research group in Harvard, was a visitor to LMB from1969 to 1970. He and Arieh worked together at Harvard in the early 1970s; Arieh combined his work with Michael on the classical computer program with Martin’s work on quantum physics. In 1972 Martin and Arieh published a paper showing for the first time how to combine classical and quantum physics when modelling retinal, a molecule embedded in the retina of the eye.
After undertaking post-doctoral work at the Weizmann, Michael returned to the LMB in 1974 and was joined by Arieh. During this time the final obstacles were overcome and two important papers were published in 1975 and 1976. The 1976 paper was the first computerised model of an enzymatic reaction, and for the first time allowed any kind of chemical reaction to be simulated involving any kind of molecule, irrespective of size.
Michael recently reflected on lessons learned during his time at the LMB and working with director Professor Max Perutz in a chapter for the book Memories and Consequences: Visiting Scientists at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge. He wrote:
“In compiling these lessons, it became clear that Max Perutz had influenced me more than anyone else. I have published papers with Max, Francis [Crick] and Aaron [Klug], worked most closely with Aaron Klug and spent two years as Francis Crick’s only postdoctoral fellow shortly after he moved to the Salk Institute in 1977. Max Perutz’s influence on me has been like a fine wine, a little strange at first but maturing over 50 years to be a guiding light to me and, I imagine, to countless others.”
Professor Richard Henderson, former Director at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology and former head of the Structural Studies Division, commented:
“Their early work on energy minimisation and its evolution into molecular dynamics has developed into a world-wide industry. It has permeated into all aspects of structural biology, from protein folding to drug design, to supramolecular interactions. Hopefully, it will soon be possible to compute the structure of almost everything, even if not with perfect accuracy.”

Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 5,200+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Genetic Signature Linked to Cancer Prognosis Identified
The results of the analysis of 8,161 tissue samples could in the future help clinicians decide how best to treat a patient as well as aid the development of new targeted treatments.
Monday, October 10, 2016
Potential Urine Test for CJD
Researchers at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Prion Unit at UCL have found that it may be possible to determine whether or not a person has sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (sCJD) by testing their urine for the presence of abnormal prion proteins.
Tuesday, October 04, 2016
Genes Essential to Life Discovered
Genes critical for life are discovered in humans and mice as part of large-scale phenotyping study.
Thursday, September 15, 2016
Gene Linked to Hearing Loss Identified
Researchers have identifed a gene associated with age-related hearing loss.
Monday, August 22, 2016
World's Most In-Depth Study to Detect Alzheimer's Disease
A multisite team will see the most thorough and vigorous testing for Alzheimer's ever performed on volunteers.
Monday, August 22, 2016
Discovery of Key Component of HIV Yields New Drug Target
Scientists from the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge and University College London have discovered an essential feature of HIV that the virus uses to infect cells whilst avoiding detection by the immune system. This discovery presents a new drug target and the opportunity to re-evaluate existing treatments for HIV to improve their efficacy.
Thursday, August 11, 2016
MRC Technology, Alzheimer’s Association Collaborate
MRC Technology (MRCT), an independent medical research charity based in London, and the Alzheimer’s Association in Chicago have entered into an agreement to review and monitor the Association’s grant-funded research portfolio.
Thursday, January 21, 2016
Study Shows Blocking Brain Inflammation Could Help Alzheimer's
The research was jointly funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and Alzheimer’s Research UK.
Saturday, January 09, 2016
A Fundamental Protection Mechanism Against Formalin In Mammals is Revealed
Formaldehyde, or formalin, is well known to all of us as a common chemical used in many industrial processes and also as a preservative, remarkably we also produce formaldehyde in our bodies.
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Liver Regrown from Stem Cells
Scientists have repaired a damaged liver in a mouse by transplanting stem cells grown in the laboratory.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
MRC, GSK and Five Leading UK Universities Collaborate
Collaboration to crack difficult disease areas.
Thursday, July 16, 2015
‘Mini Bile Ducts’ used to Discover New Drugs that could Prevent Liver Damage
An experimental cystic fibrosis drug has been shown to prevent the disease’s damage to the liver, thanks to a world-first where scientists grew mini bile ducts in the lab.
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
First RNAi Meiosis Screen Reveals Genes Essential to Generate Eggs
Screening techniques developed leading to the discovery of genes essential for meiosis in mammals.
Wednesday, July 08, 2015
Study Identifies New Way to Kill the Malaria Parasite
Scientists have discovered new ways in which the malaria parasite survives in the blood stream of its victims, a discovery that could pave the way to new treatments for the disease.
Tuesday, July 07, 2015
Making Vaccines More Effective In The Elderly
Compound shown to restore the immune system’s inbuilt memory.
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Scientific News
Unravelling the Role of Key Genes and DNA Methylation in Blood Cell Malignancies
Researchers from the University of Nebraska Medical Center have demonstrated the role of Dnmt3a in safeguarding normal haematopoiesis.
Salford Lung Study - The First Real World Clinical Trial
In this podcast, we learn about the Salford Lung Study and its potential to revolutionize the way we assess new drugs and treatments around the world.
Point of Care Diagnostics - A Cautious Revolution
Advances in molecular biology, coupled with the miniaturization and improved sensitivity of assays and devices in general, have enabled a new wave of point-of-care (POC) or “bedside” diagnostics.
ALS Study Reveals Role of RNA-Binding Proteins
The findings are a significant step forward in validating RNA-based therapy as a treatment for ALS.
Smartphone Laboratory Detects Cancer
Researchers develop low-cost, portable laboratory on a smartphonecapable of analysing multiple samples simultaneously.
Fighting Cancer with Immune Response
New treatment elicits two-pronged immune response that destroys tumors in mice.
Nanomedicine for Breast Cancer Treatment
Using nanoparticles measuring only billionths of a meter in size, doctors are able to deliver drug molecules directly to the affected tissue.
Clamping Down on Biomolecules
Physicists have developed a novel nanotool that provides a means of characterizing the mechanical properties of biomolecules.
MRSA Uses Decoys to Evade a Last-Resort Antibiotic
Researchers at Imperial College London have discovered that MRSA releases decoy molecules that allow them to escape being killed by the antibiotic.
Gene Therapy Going Global with Portable Device
Portable 'gene therapy in a box' could make future cancer and HIV cures affordable in developing countries.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
5,200+ scientific videos