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Nobel Prize in chemistry

Congratulations to our fellow computational researchers, Martin Karplus (U Strasbourg France, Harvard), Michael Levitt (Stanford), and Arieh Warshel (U of Southern CA) for being awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in chemistry.

They have greatly contributed to our field by establishing the foundations of computational models and methods that we broadly use for simulating biomolecular structures and dynamics at multiple levels of resolution, from quantum chemical to coarse-grained (virtual bond) representation. Dr. Bahar pointed out that the origin of their pioneering studies goes back to the work initiated at Weizmann Institute in the laboratory of Shneior Lifson (1914-2001). As acknowledged by Levitt: “Schneior Lifson, …, really started it all by defining the form of the empirical potential energy function still in use today” (This article has since been archived, but find a similar article here). Dr. Jeremy Berg, Director of the Institute of Personalized Medicine, commented, “There are thousands of laboratories around the world using these methods, both for basic biochemistry and for things like drug design.” Many drug companies use computer simulations to screen substances for their potential as medicines, which lets them focus their chemistry lab work on those that look promising, he said.

Dr. Levitt said, “It’s sort of nice in more general terms to see that computational science, computational biology is being recognized.” We could not agree more. Congrats on this outstanding accomplishment!

[Citation: Levitt M (2001) The birth of computational structural biology Nature Structural Biology May 8(10).]

Chennubhotla Categorizes Odors

Dr. Chakra Chennubhotla, along with Dr. Jason Castro, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Bates College, led research on a mathematical approach to standardizing odor descriptions. Arvind Ramanathan, computer scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, also collaborated. The team of researchers have identified 10 basic odor qualities: fragrant, woody/resinous, fruity (non-citrus), sickening (decayed), chemical, minty/peppermint, sweet, popcorn, sickening (pungent) and lemon. [See the press release for more information]

You can find the article published in PLOS ONE.

They have received media coverage from around the globe:
Science Daily:
NBC News:
The Independent:

Shannon Quinn, a graduate student in the CPCB Program, also played a role in this effort.

Congratulations, Chakra and Shannon!