© Nobel Media AB. Photo: A. Mahmoud  

Prof. Thomas C. Südhof

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2013
Avram Goldstein Professor, Stanford University School of Medicine
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Professor, Department of Molecular & Cellular Physiology
Stanford University School of Medicine

Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Talk:   My Path in Science From Cholesterol Metabolism to Neurotransmitter Release to Alzheimer's Disease


As a scientist, I started my career in studies of cholesterol metabolism as a postdoctoral fellow in the Brown & Goldstein laboratory at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, TX. I only began to work in neuroscience after I had finished my postdoctoral training, focusing on neurotransmitter release in experiments that would later earn me a share of the 2013 Nobel Prize. I spent 25 fruitful years at UT Southwestern during a time at which this university provided one of the most vibrant research environments in the country. I moved to Stanford 2008 to switch fields and environments and have concentrated on synapse formation in health and disease ever since. In my presentation, I would first like to introduce myself, then tell you about the work that led to the Nobel Prize, and finally discuss a project on Alzheimer’s disease as an example of the science that we are currently pursuing.  


Thomas Südhof is renowned as one of the foremost molecular and cellular neuroscientists globally, currently serving as the Avram Goldstein Professor Investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He holds professorships at the Department of Molecular & Cellular Physiology and Neurosurgery, and courtesy professorships at the Departments of Neurology & Neurological Sciences, and Psychiatry & Behavioral Science.

A native of Germany, Südhof completed his medical and doctoral studies in Göttingen before joining the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. There, as a postdoctoral fellow with Michael Brown and Joseph Goldstein, his contributions to the analysis of cholesterol metabolism earned them the Nobel Prize in 1985. Remaining at UT Southwestern, he ascended to the faculty and became an HHMI Investigator in 1986, later chairing the Department of Neuroscience. In 2008, he transitioned to Stanford University, where he holds professorships in Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Psychiatry, and Neurology.

His recent focus lies in unraveling the complexities of Alzheimer’s disease. Leveraging human genetics, gene expression studies, and structural biology, Südhof's work illuminates the role of pathological protein aggregation in neuronal damage, exacerbated by immune cells like microglia and astrocytes. Despite these insights, the gradual development of Alzheimer’s over decades, leading to impaired brain functions and neuronal death, remains enigmatic. In his talks, Südhof both acknowledges groundbreaking studies by others that have paved the way and discusses his own efforts to contribute to a deeper understanding of neuronal impairment in Alzheimer’s disease from a cell-biological perspective.

Additional Biographies

Honors and Awards

2023                  Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy, University of Mendoza, Argentina

2023                  Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina

2022                  Sherrington Prize Lecture Award, Oxford University, U.K.

2020                  Doppler Lecture Award and Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy, 

                                University of Miskolc, Hungary

2016                  Grosses Bundesverdienstkreuz mit Stern der Bundesrepublik Deutschland

2015                  Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy, Kaohsiung Medical University, Taiwan

2014                  La Grande Médaille de la Ville de Paris 

                               (Échelon Vermeil; shared with James Rothman and Randy Schekman)

2013                  Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (shared with James Rothman and Randy Schekman)

2013                  Lasker~DeBakey Medical Basic Research Award (shared with Richard Scheller)

2010                  Kavli Prize in Neuroscience (shared with James Rothman and Richard Scheller)

2008                  Bernhard Katz Award, Biophysical Society (shared with Reinhard Jahn)

2008                  Passano Foundation Award

2004                  Ulf von Euler Lecture Award, Karolinska Institutet

2004                  MetLife Award in Alzheimer’s Disease Research (shared with Roberto Malinow)

2004                  Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Neuroscience Research

1997                  Roger Eckert Award Lecture, Göttingen

1997                  U.S. National Academy Award in Molecular Biology (shared with Richard Scheller)

1994                  Wilhelm Feldberg Award

1993                  W. Alden Spencer Award from Columbia University (shared with Richard Scheller)