The eighth student to have received a doctorate in Biology from UC San Diego, in 1968, Tonegawa gave the following Nobel Laureate Lecture—titled “From Molecular Biology to Immunology and Neuroscience: A Journey of a Lifetime”—at UCSD on Nov. 18, as part of the university’s 50th anniversary. For a look at UCSD’s milestones since its founding, published in the San Diego Union Tribune read U-T San Diego’s Article.
Interviewed by Adam Smith, the editor-in-chief of Nobelprize.org, Susumu Tonegawa describes the Picower Institute, the work of the 1965 Nobel laureates in Physiology or Medicine which first introduced him to molecular biology, his transition as a student from Kyoto to UC San Diego on a Fulbright Fellowship (13:32), his postdoctoral work on transcriptional control with Renato Dulbecco (25:33), and his decision to move to the Immunology Institute in Basel, Switzerland (34:35). He then explains how he began doing the research for which he would later be awarded the Nobel Prize (47:24), what it felt like to discover something counter to his expectations (59:37), what subsequently drove him to enter the field of neuroscience (1:08:39) and the recent discoveries he has made there using molecular genetics (1:19:50). Source: Nobelprize.org. Credits: Ladda Productions AB (camera).
As part of the MIT Museum’s Second Annual Cambridge Science Festival, Susumu Tonegawa discusses his life and work, and answers questions from the general public, during the “Lunch with a Laureate” series.
Parts 1 and 2 of the Picower Institute’s Inaugural Symposium, titled “Vision of the Future,” features Nobel laureates Susumu Tonegawa, Sydney Brenner, Richard Axel, Eric Kandel and James Watson.
To view additional talks given during the symposium—by invited speakers Alexander Shulgin, Christof Koch, Patricia Churchland, Ira Flatow, Thomas Insel, Li-Huei Tsai and Kerry Ressler.
In labs around the world, mice learn to navigate complex mazes, locate chocolaty rewards, and after an interval, run the mazes again with maximum efficiency, swiftly collecting all the sweets. But in Susumu Tonegawa’s lab, the mutant mice he has created cannot perform these tasks. Tonegawa “ knocks out” a gene that impairs a specific part of the mouse hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for spatial memory, among other things. Mutant mice struggle to acquire and recall information about their surroundings. Tonegawa’s work involves manipulating genes to explore memory and learning from the most basic biochemical and cellular levels, up to the most complex behaviors. One of Tonegawa’s goals in designing defective mice is to simulate profound human disorders, like schizophrenia.