Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015

Nobel Laureate Michael Levitt to Speak at UNO

Nobel Laureate and renowned Stanford biophysicist Michael Levitt will deliver a lecture at the University of New Orleans on Thursday. Nobel Laureate and renowned Stanford biophysicist Michael Levitt will deliver a lecture at the University of New Orleans on Thursday.

Nobel laureate and renowned Stanford biophysicist Michael Levitt will deliver a lecture at the University of New Orleans on Thursday, March 5 at 11 a.m. The talk, which will take place in the University Center ballroom, is free and open to the public.

Levitt is a 2013 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He will discuss “the birth and future of multiscale modeling of macromolecules.” His research focuses on theoretical, computer-aided analysis of protein, DNA and RNA molecules responsible for life at its most fundamental level. Mapping the precise structures of biological molecules is a necessary first step in understanding how they work and in designing drugs to alter their function.

“In this talk, I describe the origins of computational structural biology and then go on to show some of the most exciting current and future applications,” Levitt said.

Levitt, a professor of structural biology, holds the Robert W. and Vivian K. Cahill Endowed Professorship in Cancer Research at the Stanford University School of Medicine. In 2013, he shared the $1.2 million Nobel Prize with Martin Karplus and Arieh Warshel “for the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems.”

Levitt is visiting UNO at the invitation of Christopher Summa, associate professor of computer science. Summa was a three-year National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow in bioinformatics at the Stanford University School of Medicine before joining UNO as a faculty member.

“The techniques Michael Levitt pioneered are widely used in the determination of protein structures, drug design, and our understanding of protein folding and dynamics, and enzyme catalysis,” Summa said. “He has been at the forefront of this field for the past 45 years and, perhaps more importantly, he has been an extraordinarily effective scientific mentor to his many students, most of whom have become independent researchers in their own right.”