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Israeli Professor Wins Nobel Prize for Chemistry

Professor Arieh Warshel, who teaches in the US, has been awarded the prize alongside scientists from Austria and Britain.
By Adam Ross
First Publish: 10/9/2013, 2:42 PM

Professor Arieh Warshel
Professor Arieh Warshel
Reuters

This year's Nobel Prize for Chemistry will be awarded to an Israeli professor, Arieh Warshel, who teaches in the United States.

Professor Warshel was announced Wednesday as a joint winner with Professor's Martin Karplus from Austria and Michael Levitt from Britain.

The prize has been awarded for the development of multi-scale models for complex chemical systems. Professor Warshel - an Israeli citizen who lives in California and teaches at the University of Southern California - was the team's senior chemistry expert. The winning team will split a $1.2 million prize fund, almost 4.3 million shekels.

The Nobel Prize Committee, made the award recognizing the team's work computerizing the understanding of the way in which protein cells behave and the meaning behind their movements. The ramifications of their work, paves the way for the treatment of many illnesses caused by the defective functioning of protein cells. 

Warshel and Levitt both previously studied at the Weizmann Institute in Israel. Warshel worked as a researcher at the institute and also spent time studying at Haifa's Technion.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu congratulated Warshel and told him, "You are doing great things. This is exceptionally impressive. We are proud of you and proud of the people who were at the Technion and the Weizmann Institute of Science and moved them forward. I will be pleased to meet with you when you arrive in Israel," the Prime Minister said.

President Shimon Peres also called to congratulate Israeli-born professor Arieh Warshel, for his Nobel Prize in chemistry. President Peres said their research would help people overcome illnesses. "I am sure that your breakthrough will lead to advances in medicine and further scientific breakthroughs," Peres said. 

Warshel is among 11 Israelis to have won a Nobel Prize, and the fifth to win the award in Chemistry. Amazingly, he was not the only Israeli nominated for the Nobel chemistry prize this year, and was joined by two others, Professor Haim Sider and Professor Aharon Razin.

In 2011, the prize was picked up by Israeli Professor Dan Shechtman, from the Technion's Department of Materials Science and Engineering, who was recognized for his 1982 discovery of quasicrystals - which pack tightly together forming a mosaic type pattern. Originally his findings were rejected by scientific peers taking 30 years to be verified and acknowledged by the Nobel committee.