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Stanford neuroscientist shares Nobel in medicine

Thomas Sudhof studies now nerve cells communicate with each other

Stanford University neuroscientist Thomas Sudhof was at a conference in Baeza, Spain when he got the news today – he won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Sudhof shares the $1.2 million prize with two others "for their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells."

"I'm absolutely surprised," he said. "Every scientist dreams of this. I didn't realize there was a chance I would be awarded the prize. I am stunned and really happy to share the prize with James Rothman (of Yale University) and Randy Schekman (of the University of California at Berkeley)."

The German-born Sudhof, a professor of molecular and cellular physiology at the School of Medicine, explores how neurons in the brain communicate with one another across gaps called synapses.

"We'd like to understand how synapses come to learning on a larger scale," he told the Stanford School of Medicine's communications office in a phone conversation this morning. How are the specific connections established? How do they form? And what happens in schizophrenia and autism, when these connections are compromised?"

The Nobel committee called Sudhof on his cell phone after first trying his home in Menlo Park. His wife, Lu Chen, a Stanford associate professor of neurosurgery and psychiatry and behavioral sciences, gave them his cell phone number.

"The phone rang three times before I decided to go downstairs and pick it up," Chen said. "I thought it was one of my Chinese relatives who couldn't figure out the time zone."

Sudhof "has patiently but relentlessly probed one of the fundamental questions of medical science – perhaps the fundamental question in neuroscience: how nerve cells communicate with each other," said Lloyd Minor, dean of the School of Medicine.

"The answer is at the crux of human biology and of monumental importance to human health."

The other two Nobel winners today also have Stanford connections. Rothman is a former Stanford professor of biochemistry and Schekman earned his doctorate at Stanford under the late Arthur Kornberg, who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1959.

— Palo Alto Weekly staff

Comments

Posted by Member, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 8, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Did anyone else notice that the story "Immigrant students get crash course in DREAM Act " will only allow comments from people who register (no doubt so that they can track and control who is making comments). Looks to me like some seriously biased reporting is going on at MV Voice. When the same article states "living in the country illegally" and "I didn't know that I could get money from the government to go to college" it just makes my head want to EXPLODE!!!!


Posted by Martin Omander, a resident of Rex Manor
on Oct 8, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Congratulations to Dr Sudhof! Happy to live in an area of the world that produces top-notch research.


Posted by Taxpayer, a resident of Whisman Station
on Oct 8, 2013 at 2:31 pm

You and me both, Sylvan Park.

Glad that I don't pay for this rag. Something like that would make me cancel.


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