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Nobel laureate Südhof set for Oct. 3 Discovery Lecture

Sep. 24, 2019, 4:16 PM


by Bill Snyder

Nobel laureate Thomas Südhof, MD, whose studies of synaptic formation and transmission are advancing understanding of brain disorders including autism, Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia, will deliver the next Flexner Discovery Lecture on Thursday, Oct. 3.

Thomas Südhof, MD

Südhof is the Avram Goldstein Professor in the Stanford University School of Medicine and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. His talk, “Towards a Molecular Logic of Synapse Formation,” will begin at 4 p.m. in 208 Light Hall and is sponsored by the Vanderbilt Brain Institute.

A native of Göttingen, Germany, Südhof received his MD and doctoral degrees from the University of Göttingen.

He trained as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas with Michael Brown, MD, and Joseph Goldstein, MD, who shared the 1985 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of the LDL receptor’s role in regulating cholesterol metabolism.

As an investigator at UT Southwestern and now at Stanford, Südhof and colleagues have studied how signaling molecules are transported in sac-like structures called vesicles, and how they are released at precise times into the synapse, or gap between nerve cells, to facilitate signal transmission.

The formation and specification of synapses, their properties and plasticity underlie all brain function. Impairments in synaptic transmission can disrupt that function.

In 2013, Südhof, James Rothman, PhD, and Randy Schekman, PhD, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine “for their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic.”

For a complete schedule of Flexner Discovery Lectures and archived video of previous lectures, go to

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