2013 Nobel Prize Recipient to Speak on Autism, Schizophrenia
Sacramento, CA — Thomas C. Südhof, recipient of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine, will address his research on how defects in a ‘glue’ that binds together proteins at the neuronal synapses may play a role in the etiology of autism spectrum disorder, schizophrenia and other psychiatric neurodevelopmental conditions, during the first 2015 UC Davis MIND Institute Distinguished Lecturer Series address in January.
Südhoff is the Avram Goldstein Chair and professor of molecular and cellular physiology at Stanford University School of Medicine and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. His research focuses on the molecular mechanisms underlying synapse formation and function, in particular on how synapses transmit signals from one neuron to the next, and how they become abnormal in disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.
His lecture, “The Neurexin Enigma – Towards an Understanding of the Neurobiology of Synapse Formation and Neuropsychiatric Diseases,” will be presented on Wednesday, Jan. 14, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in the auditorium of the MIND Institute, 2825 50th St., Sacramento. All lectures in this series are free and open to the public and no reservations are required.
Dramatic recent advances in the genetics of neurodevelopmental conditions have identified recurrent mutations in genes encoding for neurexins and their ligands, which are essential for synapse function, shaping the properties of synapses such as short- and long-term plasticity. Growing evidence demonstrates that they perform central functions in the assembly and function of neural circuits, but their precise roles and mechanisms of action only now are beginning to emerge. Understanding them will allow insight into how these genes are involved in the pathophysiology neurodevelopmental diseases. Mutations in synaptogenic molecules that Südhoff discovered predispose to these neuropsychiatric disorders, and mouse models of the gene mutations that he produced mimic features of these disorders.
Südhof is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In addition to the Nobel Prize, he is the recipient of several awards, including the Alden Spencer Award, the Bristol-Myers Award in Neuroscience, the Passano Award, the Kavli Award in Neuroscience and the Lasker-deBakey Medical Basic Research Award.
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