Thomas C. Südhof
Born: 22 December 1955, Göttingen, Germany
Affiliation at the time of the award: Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Prize motivation: "for their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells"
Field: cell physiology, neurophysiology
Prize share: 1/3
Thomas Südhof was born in Göttingen, Germany. He studied at the university in Aachen, at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the United States, and at the university in Göttingen. He received his Ph.D. from Göttingen's Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in 1982. The following year, he moved to the University of Texas, Dallas. In 2008 he moved to Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Thomas Südhof is married with two children and four more children from an earlier marriage.
The cells inside our bodies produce a host of different molecules that are sent to specific sites. During transport, many of these molecules are grouped together in tiny sac-like structures called vesicles. These vesicles help transport substances to different places inside the cell and send molecules from the cell's surface as signals to other cells in the body. By studying brain cells from mice, in the 1990s Thomas Südhof demonstrated how vesicles are held in place, ready to release signal-bearing molecules at the right moment.
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