Dr. Südhof to Deliver 2018 Maurice Albin Keynote Lecture

By Deepak Sharma, MD, DM
Chair, Program Planning Committee

Dr. Sudhof
Thomas Südhof, MD

Dr. Thomas Südhof is the Avram Goldstein Professor at Stanford University School of Medicine. He is Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology, Professor (by courtesy), Neurology and Neurological Sciences and Professor (by courtesy), Psychiatry and Behavioral Science. He is renowned for his study of synaptic transmission and received the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with James Rothman and Randy Schekman for their work on vesicle trafficking. His laboratory studies how synapses form in the brain, how their properties are specified, and how they accomplish the rapid and precise signaling that forms the basis for all information processing by the brain.

After finishing postdoctoral training, Dr. Südhof started his own laboratory at UT Southwestern in 1986. He is credited with discovering much of the machinery mediating neurotransmitter release and presynaptic plasticity in his 21 years at UT Southwestern. In 2008, Dr. Südhof moved to Stanford, and became the Avram Goldstein Professor in the School of Medicine at Stanford University. His collective findings have contributed to much of the current scientific understanding of presynaptic neuron behavior in neurotransmission and synapse formation. His work also has revealed the role of presynaptic neurons in neuropsychiatric illnesses, such as autism or neurodegenerative disorders.

Dr. Südhof’s work has revealed how synaptotagmin proteins sense calcium and mediate neurotransmitter release from presynaptic neurons. He also defined the molecules that organize release in space and time at a synapse, such as RIMs and Munc13's, and identified central components of the presynaptic machinery that mediate the fusion of synaptic vesicles containing neurotransmitters with the presynaptic plasma membrane, the process that ultimately causes neurotransmitter release, and that is controlled by synaptotagmins. His work also revealed how pre- and postsynaptic proteins form physical connections, permitting neurotransmission. Specifically, he identified proteins on presynaptic neurons, called neurexins, and proteins on the postsynaptic neuron, called neuroligins, that bind to each other at the synapse. At present, his lab attempts to build on these findings in defining the relationship between specific synaptic proteins and information processing in the brain, with its concordant manifestations in behavior. This large-scale project attempts to provide insight into both the mechanisms underlying synaptic communication, and the processes causing human disease.

In recognition of his tremendous contributions, Dr. Südhof has received numerous awards and honors including his election to the National Academy of Sciences (2002), Institute of Medicine (2008), American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2010) and the Royal Society of the UK (2017). He also received the Kavli Prize in Neuroscience (2010) and the Lasker~DeBakey Basic Medical Research Award, Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation (2013) in addition to the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (2013).

Dr. Südhof is obviously a very sought after speaker and it is our pleasure and honor that he has agreed to deliver the Maurice Albin Keynote Lecture at our 46th Annual Meeting in San Francisco. The title of his lecture will be “Using Human Neurons to Explore the Molecular Mechanisms of Neuropsychiatric Disorders”.  We eagerly look forward to welcoming him to our meeting!


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