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Stanford University School of Medicine

Nobel Laureate Michael Levitt at press conference: “Science is a passion”

“There actually are websites where people make predictions about who will get the Nobel Prize, and I’m happy to report I wasn’t on any of them,” said Stanford’s new Nobel Laureate Michael Levitt, PhD, who charmed the audience with his wit and humility, at a press conference held on campus earlier today.

Levitt explained how he started his groundbreaking work when he was a 20-year-old postdoctoral scholar in Cambridge, England. Working mostly from home with his newborn child amidst stacks of computer punch cards, he began building the foundational software algorithms that now allow researchers to simulate complex biological processes within the body.

“He was a computer hacker when that was a good thing to be,” said Stanford President John Hennessy, PhD.

At 66, it’s obvious that Levitt is still thrilled to go into work every day. “This week we actually made progress on three difficult problems,” he said. “It’s remarkable when you get to do what you like. You end up working with smart young people… who get younger every year.”

When asked about his heroes, he quoted the French-American sculptor Louise Bourgeois, who at 70 indignantly told someone at her Museum of Modern Art exhibit, “You think this is a retrospective? I’m just beginning.” Afterwards she used the exhibit proceeds to rent a Brooklyn warehouse and went on to create her most famous work, including a series of enormous bronze spiders.

“That’s kind of how I want to be,” said Levitt about his post-Nobel plans. "Science is a passion."

The full press conference can be watched here.

Previously: No average morning for Nobel winner Michael Levitt, Nobel winner Michael Levitt’s work animates biological processes and Stanford’s Michael Levitt wins 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Photo by L.A. Cicero/Stanford News Service

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