Winner of Nobel Prize in Medicine to speak at Upstate March 27; part of scientific lecture doubleheader

Winner of Nobel Prize in Medicine to speak at Upstate March 27; part of scientific lecture doubleheader

SYRACUSE, N.Y.-- Neuroscientist Thomas C. Südhof, MD, winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2013, for discovering the machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells, will speak Tuesday, March 27, from 11 to noon in the Ninth Floor Auditorium of Weiskotten Hall.

Südhof will present “Towards Understanding the Molecular Logic of Synapse Formation and Specification: Neurexins.”

His presentation is part of a science doubleheader March 27 sponsored by the Office of the Executive Dean and Dean of the College of Medicine.

Prior to Südhof’s presentation, Krishna Vadodaria, PhD, of the Salk Institute of Biological Studies in San Diego, will speak on “Studying Major Depression Using Patient-Derived Neurons.” Her presentation begins at 10 a.m. in the Ninth Floor Auditorium of Weiskotten Hall.

Südhof won the Nobel Prize with James E. Rothman, and Randy W. Schekman. The Nobel Committee described the breakthrough as “having solved the mystery of how the cell organizes its transport system. Each cell is a factory that produces and exports molecules. For instance, insulin is manufactured and released into the blood and signaling molecules called neurotransmitters are sent from one nerve cell to another. These molecules are transported around the cell in small packages called vesicles. The three Nobel Laureates have discovered the molecular principles that govern how this cargo is delivered to the right place at the right time in the cell.”

“The opportunity to host Dr. Südhofon our campus is a grand occasion,” said Julio Licinio, MD, PhD, senior vice president and dean of the College of Medicine. “Dr. Südhof has been called by his colleagues a ‘biomedical exceptionalist’ and a ‘consummate citizen of science.”

“Together, with his presentation and that of Dr Vadodaria’s, we will broaden our understanding of discovery on some of the key issues of medical science today.”

Südhof’s current work focuses on the basic processes underlying synaptic function and also the pathogenetic consequences of impairments of these processes in neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His awards include the Alden Spencer Award, the National Academy of Sciences Award in Molecular Biology, the Bristol-Myers Award in Neuroscience, the Passano Award, the Kavli Award in Neuroscience, the Lasker-deBakey Medical Basic Research Award, and the Nobel Prize.

Vadodaria’s research in studying psychiatric disorders spans over 12 years and three continents and model systems. She has developed novel tools for studying psychiatric disorders using in vitro models and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), a process in which cells collected through a skin biopsy are modified to become stem cells and then regrown in a test tube into any type of adult cells, including neurons.

Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD, from Kyoto, Japan, received the Nobel Prize in 2012 for his creation of the iPSC method. Vadodaria is a pioneer in applying that revolutionary approach to create in test tubes neurons derived from cells of individuals suffering from major depression, which represents the second largest burden of disease in developed countries. Antidepressants are the most sold class of prescribed drugs nationally. Vadodaria’s new approach of creating and studying brain cells derived from depressed individuals represents a major step forward in our efforts to better understand and treat depression.

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