Thomas C. Südhof, M.D. and Nobel Laureate

Professor, Departments of Molecular & Cellular Physiology and of Neurosurgery, Stanford University School of Medicine; Avram Goldstein Professor Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)

Dr. Südhof, a native of Germany, obtained his MD degree from the University of Göttingen in 1982, and performed the work for his doctoral thesis at the Max-Planck-Institut für biophysikalische Chemie in Goettingen under the direction of Prof. Victor P. Whittaker. From 1983-1986, Dr. Südhof trained as a postdoctoral fellow with Drs. Brown and Goldstein at the Department of Molecular Genetics at UT Southwestern, and elucidated the structure, expression and regulation of the LDL receptor gene. Subsequently, Dr. Südhof served on the faculty of UT Southwestern in Dallas until 2008, where he–among others–was the founding chair of the Department of Neuroscience. Since 2008, Dr. Südhof is the Avram Goldstein Professor in the School of Medicine at Stanford University. Dr. Südhof also is an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Südhof’s research interests focus on the physiological and pathological mechanisms operating on the synapse, in particular on how synapses form, how they transmit signals and how they become abnormal during diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and autism. His studies have identified key molecules in synapses, such as synaptotagmins as the calcium sensors for neurotransmitter release, Munc18 as a major fusion protein at the synapse, and neurexins and neuroligins as central trans-synaptic cell adhesion molecules. One of the major current interests in his laboratory is to elucidate the relation of synaptic activity to synapse loss and neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease. He has won several awards for his work, most recently the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (2013).