Modelling the molecules of life – a talk by Michael Levitt

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Nov 20, 2014

Last thursday I went to an inspiring talk given by Michael Levitt, joint winner of the 2013 Nobel prize for chemistry. It was the 2014 Sir Ernst Chain Lecture at Imperial College, London.
Starting with a project using lysozyme (where the co-ordinates for the computer input came from a ball and stick model and were typed onto punch cards) and early computer simulations of protein folding, to his more recent work on modelling ribosomes and eukaryote chaperonins, he presented a small slice of the amazing work that he and his collaborators have done. What was equally evident was the phenomenal advances in technology and computational power over the last 40 years.
He is currently holding a chair in Cancer Research at Stanford, and spoke a little about the work on humanised antibodies that he did with Cary Queen  at Protein Design Labs (a company that formed in 1987, is now PDL biopharma  and produced patents that underpinned the development of drugs like Herceptin,and Avastin).

He included a slide providing advice to the young:
Be passionate
Be persistent
Be original
Be kind and good (or, at least, act kind and good…)

He thanked the Nobel Committee for Chemistry for, amongst other things, considering awarding a prize for a method rather than a solution; a sentiment especially pleasing to the editors of Nature Protocols!

Some of the slides were similar to those published here.
In 2003, he prepared a series of video talklets to form a web-based class on Computational Structural Biology. These are available on-line; and I plan to listen to as many of these as I can this coming weekend! Structural Biology 228 | Computational Structural Biology

Go to the profile of Bronwen Dekker

Bronwen Dekker

Senior Editor, Nature Protocols, Nature Publishing

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