The applause was loud when Stanford Professor Michael Levitt arrived on campus for a news conference in his honor. At 2:15 this morning, a loud ring from his phone signaled his life was about to change.
"I heard the voice, it said 'this is the Swedish Academy of Sciences calling you -- guess you know what's going on.' (Then) they tell you you've won a prize," said Levitt.
Levitt is a professor and chair of Stanford's Department of Structural Biology. He shares the prize with professors from USC and Harvard. The Nobel Prize committee says the professors' worked laid the foundation for the powerful programs that are used to understand and predict chemical processes. Computer models mirroring real life have become crucial for most advances made in chemistry today, including cancer research.
"When you look at this, it took maybe five years of pure research and 30 years of corporate, industrial, venture funded research to get things to market. So it is a very long process. Things that are going to have a big impact take a long time," said Levitt.
Levitt was born in South Africa, met his wife in Israel and spent time in England before coming to Stanford.
Levitt is Stanford's 30th faculty member to win the Nobel Prize. The school of medicine alone has won five Nobel Prizes in just the last seven years.