Michael Levitt, FRS (born 9 May 1947) is an American-British-Israeli biophysicist and a professor of structural biology at Stanford University, a position he has held since 1987. His research is in computational biology and he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
Michael Levitt was born in Pretoria, South Africa, to a Jewish family from Plungė, Lithuania; his father was Lithuanian and his mother was of Czech descent. He attended Sunnyside Primary School and then Pretoria Boys High School between 1960 and 1962. The family moved to England when he was 15. Levitt spent 1963 studying applied mathematics at the University of Pretoria. He attended King's College London, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics in 1967.
In 1967, he visited Israel for the first time. Together with his Israeli wife, Rina, a multimedia artist, he left to study at Cambridge, where his three children were born. In 1979, he returned to Israel and conducted research at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, becoming an Israeli citizen in 1980. He served in the Israeli Defense Forces for six weeks in 1985. In 1986, he began teaching at Stanford, and since then has split his time between Israel and California.
Levitt was a PhD student in Computational Biology at Peterhouse, Cambridge, and was based at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology from 1968 to 1972, where he developed a computer program for studying the conformations of molecules that underpinned much of his later work. In 1967, he was sent on behalf of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology of Cambridge University, to Israel, to work at the Weizmann Institute of Science, with Professor Shneior Lifson and a student of his – Arieh Warshel, of the Technion in Haifa. They were using computer modelling to understand the behaviour of biological molecules.
He went on to gain a research fellowship at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.
- Royal Society Exchange Fellow, Weizmann Institute, Israel, 1967–68
- Staff Scientist, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, 1973–80
- Professor of Chemical Physics, Weizmann Institute, 1980–87 (dept. chair 1980–83)
- Professor of Structural Biology, Stanford University, 1987–
Levitt was one of the first researchers to conduct molecular dynamics simulations of DNA and proteins and developed the first software for this purpose. He is currently well known for developing approaches to predict macromolecular structures, having participated in many Critical Assessment of Techniques for Protein Structure Prediction (CASP) competitions, where he criticized molecular dynamics for inability to refine protein structures. He has also worked on simplified representations of protein structure for analyzing folding and packing and developing scoring systems for large-scale sequence-structure comparisons. He has mentored many successful scientists, including Mark Gerstein and Ram Samudrala. Cyrus Chothia was one of his colleagues.
Awards and recognition
Levitt has served on the Scientific Advisory Boards of the following companies: Oplon Ltd, Cocrystal Discovery, StemRad, Ltd, and Cengent Therapeutics, Inc.
- "‘LEVITT, Prof. Michael’, Who's Who 2013, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2013; online edn, Oxford University Press".(subscription required)
- Diamond, R.; Levitt, M. (1971). "A refinement of the structure of lysozyme". The Biochemical journal 125 (4): 92P. PMC 1178298. PMID 5144255.
- "Past colleagues in the Levitt Lab".
- "Present colleagues in the Levitt Lab".
- Daggett, V.; Levitt, M. (1993). "Protein Unfolding Pathways Explored Through Molecular Dynamics Simulations". Journal of Molecular Biology 232 (2): 600–619. doi:10.1006/jmbi.1993.1414. PMID 7688428.
- Xia, Y.; Huang, E. S.; Levitt, M.; Samudrala, R. (2000). "Ab initio construction of protein tertiary structures using a hierarchical approach". Journal of Molecular Biology 300 (1): 171–185. doi:10.1006/jmbi.2000.3835. PMID 10864507.
- Gerstein, M.; Levitt, M. (1997). "A structural census of the current population of protein sequences". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 94 (22): 11911–11916. doi:10.1073/pnas.94.22.11911. PMC 23653. PMID 9342336.
- Pethica, R. B.; Levitt, M.; Gough, J. (2012). "Evolutionarily consistent families in SCOP: Sequence, structure and function". BMC Structural Biology 12: 27. doi:10.1186/1472-6807-12-27. PMC 3495643. PMID 23078280.
- http://www.embo.org/embo-members/find-a-member.html Find an EMBO member
- 2 Israeli-Americans awarded Nobel Prize in chemistry 9 October 2013, 16:36, Ynet
- http://csb.stanford.edu/ Levitt Lab website
- http://csb.stanford.edu/levitt/ Lab Website Profile Page
- Levitt, M. (2001). "The birth of computational structural biology". Nature Structural Biology 8 (5): 392–393. doi:10.1038/87545. PMID 11323711.
- "The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2013" (Press release). Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. 9 October 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2013.
- Chang, Kenneth (9 October 2013). "3 Researchers Win Nobel Prize in Chemistry". New York Times. Retrieved 9 October 2013.
- Foreign Minister congratulates Litvak Levitt on winning Nobel Prize
- Nobel laureate Michael Levitt tells Haaretz: 'I still feel 16, so I have no ego’
- http://csb.stanford.edu/levitt/2_Page_CV.html Michael Levitt CV
- Nobel laureate Michael Levitt tells Haaretz: 'I still feel 16, so I have no ego’
- Tiny Israel a Nobel heavyweight, especially in chemistry
-  By Haviv Rettig Gur, 9 October 2013, Times of Israel
- Two Israeli scientists who emigrated to U.S. win Nobel Prize in Chemistry Haaretz, by Ido Efrati, 9 October 2013
- Nobel laureate: I didn't get tenure in Israel Yitzhak Benhorin, Washington, Ynet, 9 October 2013
- Levitt, Michael (1972). Conformation analysis of proteins (PhD thesis). University of Cambridge.
- "Nobel Prize in Chemistry for Peterhouse alumnus". Retrieved 11 October 2013.
- Computer chemists win Nobel prize By James Morgan and Jonathan Amos, BBC News, 9 October 2013
- Chothia, C.; Lesk, A. M.; Tramontano, A.; Levitt, M.; Smith-Gill, S. J.; Air, G.; Sheriff, S.; Padlan, E. A.; Davies, D.; Tulip, W. R.; Colman, P. M.; Spinelli, S.; Alzari, P. M.; Poljak, R. J. (1989). "Conformations of immunoglobulin hypervariable regions". Nature 342 (6252): 877–883. Bibcode:1989Natur.342..877C. doi:10.1038/342877a0. PMID 2687698.
- Levitt, M.; Chothia, C. (1976). "Structural patterns in globular proteins". Nature 261 (5561): 552–558. Bibcode:1976Natur.261..552L. doi:10.1038/261552a0. PMID 934293.
- Warshel, A.; Levitt, M. (1976). "Theoretical studies of enzymic reactions: Dielectric, electrostatic and steric stabilization of the carbonium ion in the reaction of lysozyme". Journal of Molecular Biology 103 (2): 227–249. doi:10.1016/0022-2836(76)90311-9. PMID 985660.
- Levitt, M. (1976). "A simplified representation of protein conformations for rapid simulation of protein folding". Journal of Molecular Biology 104 (1): 59–107. doi:10.1016/0022-2836(76)90004-8. PMID 957439.
- Chopra, G.; Kalisman, N.; Levitt, M. (2010). "Consistent refinement of submitted models at CASP using a knowledge-based potential". Proteins: Structure, Function, and Bioinformatics 78 (12): n/a–n/a. doi:10.1002/prot.22781. PMC 2911515. PMID 20589633.
- CASP participants usually did not try to use MD to avoid "a central embarrassment of molecular mechanics, namely that energy minimization or molecular dynamics generally leads to a model that is less like the experimental structure", Koehl P. and Michael Levitt (1999). "A brighter future for protein structure prediction". Nature Structural Biology vol. 6 108–111.
- Hinds, D. A.; Levitt, M. (1994). "Exploring conformational space with a simple lattice model for protein structure". Journal of molecular biology 243 (4): 668–682. doi:10.1016/0022-2836(94)90040-X. PMID 7966290.
- Park, B.; Levitt, M. (1996). "Energy Functions that Discriminate X-ray and Near-native Folds from Well-constructed Decoys". Journal of Molecular Biology 258 (2): 367–392. doi:10.1006/jmbi.1996.0256. PMID 8627632.
- Gerstein, M.; Tsai, J.; Levitt, M. (1995). "The Volume of Atoms on the Protein Surface: Calculated from Simulation, using Voronoi Polyhedra". Journal of Molecular Biology 249 (5): 955–966. doi:10.1006/jmbi.1995.0351. PMID 7540695.
- Levitt, M.; Gerstein, M. (1998). "A unified statistical framework for sequence comparison and structure comparison". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 95 (11): 5913–5920. doi:10.1073/pnas.95.11.5913. PMC 34495. PMID 9600892.
- Brenner, S. E.; Koehl, P.; Levitt, M. (2000). "The ASTRAL compendium for protein structure and sequence analysis". Nucleic acids research 28 (1): 254–256. doi:10.1093/nar/28.1.254. PMC 102434. PMID 10592239.
- List of publications from Microsoft Academic Search
- Official Nobelprize.org Michael Levitt site, interview and pictures
- Michael Levitt academic genealogy and list of PhD & Postdoc trainees
- Biography, from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information, United States Department of Energy
|Nobel Prize in Chemistry laureate
With: Martin Karplus