Susumu Tonegawa

About Susumu Tonegawa

Who is it?: Immunologist, Molecular Biologist
Birth Day: September 05, 1939
Birth Place: Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan, Japanese
Birth Sign: Libra
Alma mater: Kyoto University University of California, San Diego
Known for: Antibody diversity
Awards: Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize (1982) Order of Culture (1984) Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine (1987)
Fields: Genetics, Immunology, Neuroscience
Institutions: Massachusetts Institute of Technology RIKEN Brain Science Institute Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Academic advisors: Masaki Hayashi Renato Dulbecco
Influenced: Adrian Hayday (postdoc)
Website: tonegawalab.mit.edu/susumu-tonegawa

Susumu Tonegawa Net Worth

Susumu Tonegawa was bornon September 05, 1939 in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan, Japanese, is Immunologist, Molecular Biologist. Susumu Tonegawa is a Japanese molecular biologist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1987. Renowned for his discovery of the genetic mechanism that produces antibody diversity, his work elucidated the genetic mechanism of the adaptive immune system. A molecular biologist by training, he changed fields and ventured into immunology studies before again changing fields to neuroscience. Born in Nagoya as the son of an engineer, he grew up in rural towns, enjoying the space and freedom of the countryside. He was sent to a high school in Tokyo where he developed an interest in science. It was during the years he spent at the Kyoto University that he became fascinated with operon theory after reading papers by François Jacob and Jacques Monod. He eventually moved to the University of California in the United States to pursue his doctorate. From there he went to the Basel Institute for Immunology in Switzerland where he performed pioneering work in immunology, and discovered the genetic mechanism that produces antibody diversity. For this seminal work he was honored with several prestigious awards including the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize and the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. He devoted the later years of his career to research in neuroscience, examining the molecular, cellular and neuronal basis of memory formation and retrieval.
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💰 Net worth: Under Review

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Biography/Timeline

1963

Tonegawa was born in Nagoya, Japan and attended Hibiya High School in Tokyo. While a student at Kyoto University, Tonegawa became fascinated with operon theory after reading papers by François Jacob and Jacques Monod, whom he credits in part for inspiring his interest in molecular biology. Tonegawa graduated from Kyoto University in 1963 and, due to limited options for molecular biology study in Japan at the time, moved to the University of California, San Diego to do his doctorate study under Dr. Masaki Hayashi. He received his Ph.D. in 1968.

1971

Tonegawa conducted post-doctoral work at the Salk Institute in San Diego in the laboratory of Renato Dulbecco. With encouragement from Dr. Dulbecco, Tonegawa moved to the Basel Institute for Immunology in Basel, Switzerland in 1971, where he transitioned from molecular biology into immunology studies and carried out his landmark immunology studies.

1981

In 1981, Tonegawa became a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1994, he was appointed as the first Director of the MIT Center for Learning and Memory, which developed under his guidance into The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory. Tonegawa resigned his directorship in 2006 and currently serves as a Picower Professor of Neuroscience and Biology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.

1990

Shortly following his Nobel Prize in 1990, Tonegawa again changed fields from immunology to neuroscience, where he has focused his research in the ensuing years.

2004

Tonegawa is a fan of the Boston Red Sox, and threw out an opening pitch during their 2004 World Series championship season.

2009

Tonegawa also served as Director of the RIKEN Brain Science Institute from 2009 to 2017.

2012

Tonegawa was an early adopter of optogenetics and biotechnology in neuroscience research, leading to his groundbreaking work identifying and manipulating memory engram cells. In 2012, his lab demonstrated that the activation of a specific sub-population of mouse hippocampal neurons, labelled during a fear conditioning paradigm, is sufficient to evoke a behavioral response correlated with a precise memory trace. This confirmed for the first time that memory information is stored in specific cellular ensembles in the hippocampus, now frequently called memory engram cells.

2019

More recently, his lab continues to employ optogenetic Technology and virus injection techniques to expand their findings on the engram cell ensemble. Notably, Tonegawa has uncovered the role of memory engram cell ensembles in memory valence, as well as their role in brain disorders such as depression, amnesia, and Alzheimer’s disease. These works provide proofs of concept for Future medical treatments in humans through the manipulation of memory engram ensembles.