Susumu Tonegawa

Dr. Susumu Tonegawa

Picower Professor of Biology and Neuroscience
Director, RIKEN-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics
Principal Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Principal Investigator, Tonegawa Lab
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Short Biography

Susumu Tonegawa received his Ph.D. from UCSD. He then undertook postdoctoral work at the Salk Institute in San Diego, before working at the Basel Institute for Immunology in Basel, Switzerland, where he performed his landmark immunology experiments. Tonegawa won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1987 for “his discovery of the genetic principle for generation of antibody diversity.” He has since continued to make important contributions but in an entirely different field: neuroscience.

Using advanced techniques of gene manipulation, Tonegawa is now unraveling the molecular, cellular and neural circuit mechanisms that underlie learning and memory. His studies have broad implications for psychiatric and neurologic diseases. Tonegawa is currently the Picower Professor of Biology and Neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Director of the RIKEN-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics at MIT. He is also an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Additional Information

Academic Education
  • Department of Biology, University of California, San Diego 9/1963 – 8/1968. Ph.D.
Postgraduate Work
  • Department of Biology, University of California, San Diego 9/1968 – 4/1969, Laboratory of Dr. Hayashi
  • The Salk Institute, San Diego, California 5/1969 – 12/1970, Laboratory of Dr. Dulbecco 
Professional Positions
  • Director, RIKEN-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics at MIT 4/1/08 – present
  • Picower Professor of Biology and Neuroscience 5/1/02 – present
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator 2/88 – 3/09; 4/2013 – present
  • Director, RIKEN Brain Science Institute 4/1/09 – 6/30/2017
  • Professor of Biology, Center for Cancer Research and Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 9/1/81 – present
  • Director, RIKEN-MIT Neuroscience Research Center 10/98 – 4/08
  • Director, the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory 5/1/02 – 12/31/06
  • Whitehead Professor of Biology and Neuroscience 4/1/99 – 4/30/02
  • Director, MIT Center for Learning and Memory 4/1/94 – 4/30/02
  • Amgen Professor of Biology and Neuroscience 5/1/93 – 6/30/99
  • Member, Basel Institute for Immunology, Basel, Switzerland 1/71 – 8/81
  • Teaching Assistant, Department of Biology, University of California, San Diego, California 9/64 – 6/68
  • Research Assistant, Department of Biology, University of California, San Diego, California 9/63 – 6/64
  • Honorary Member, American Association of Immunologists
  • Honorary Member, Scandinavian Society for Immunology
  • Honorary Member, Japanese Biochemical Society
  • Member, American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Member, U.S. Society for Neuroscience
Advisory Roles
  • Member, Advisory Council, 50th Anniversary of the Fulbright Program
  • Member, External Steering Committee, UCLA Pharmacogenetics and Pharmacogenomics Research Group
  • Member, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
  • Member, Royal Academy of Morocco, Hassan II Academy of Sciences and Technology
  • Member, Board of Scientific Governors, The Scripps Research Institute
  • Member, Board of Governors, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology
  • Member, Jury, Antonio Champalimaud Vision Award
  • Special Advisor, RIKEN-Brain Science Institute
  • Member, Wellcome Trust, Neuroscience and Mental Health Strategy Committee
  • Member, Scientific Committee, Champalimaud Foundation
Scholarships and Fellowships
  • Damon Runyon Memorial Fund, Postdoctoral Fellowship 7/69 – 12/70
  • David Sarnoff RCA Scholarship 4/62 – 3/63
Honorary Degrees
  • 2009 Honorary Degree, City University of Hong Kong
  • 2006 Honorary Degree, University of Alcala, Madrid
  • 2006 Honorary Degree, University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • 2004 Honorary Degree, Kyoto University, Kyoto Japan
  • 1986 Honorary Degree, Doctor of Science, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois
Editorial Boards
  • Neuron (2000 – present)
  • Molecular Neurobiology (1997 – present)
  • Physiological Genomics (1998 – 2006)
  • Immunity (1994 – 2000)
  • Immunological Reviews (1995 – 1998)
  • Current Opinion in Immunology (1992 – 1998)
  • International Journal of Immunology (1988 – 1998)
Awards and Major Honors
  • 2010    David M. Bonner Lifetime Achievement Award, UCSD
  • 2008    University College London (UCL) Prize Lecturer in Clinical Science
  • 2007    Gold Medal, Spanish National Research Council, Cajal Institute (CSIC), Madrid
  • 2007    RIKEN Fellow, Saitama, Japan
  • 2002    Presidential Lecturer, Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting
  • 2002    Professorship, Picower Foundation
  • 1999    Professorship, Whitehead Family Funds
  • 1999    1999 Mike Hogg Award, the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
  • 1994    Honorary member of the Polish Academy of Medicine and awarded the Golden Medal Medicus Magnus
  • 1994    Professorship, Amgen, Inc.
  • 1991    Order of the Southern Cross, presented by Fernando Collor de Melo, President of Brazil, Sao Paolo, Brazil
  • 1989    Rabbi Shai Shacknai Memorial Prize in Immunology and Cancer Research, Jerusalem, Israel
  • 1989    Distinguished Investigator Award of American College of Rheumatology, Atlanta, U.S.A.
  • 1988    Kihara Prize of Japanese Society for Genetics, Kyoto, Japan
  • 1987    Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 1987    Albert and Mary Lasker Award (Basic Research), New York City
  • 1986    Foreign Associate, National Academy of Sciences of the United States
  • 1986    Robert Koch Prize of the Robert Koch Foundation, Bonn, West Germany
  • 1986    Bristol-Myers Award for Distinguished Achievement in Cancer Research, New York, U.S.A.
  • 1984    Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • 1984    Order of Culture “Bunkakunsho” from the Emperor of Japan
  • 1983    Person of Cultural Merit “Bunkakorosha” of the Japanese Government
  • 1983    Gairdner Foundation International Awards of the Gairdner Foundation, Toronto, Canada
  • 1983    The V.D. Mattia Award of the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology, Nutley, U.S.A.
  • 1982    Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize of Columbia University, New York, U.S.A.
  • 1982    Asahi Prize of Asahi – Shimbun (Asahi Press), Tokyo, Japan
  • 1981    Avery Landsteiner Prize of the Gesselshat fur Immunologie, West Germany
  • 1981    Genetics Grand Prize of Genetics Promotion Foundation, Japan
  • 1980    Warren Triennial Prize of the Massachusetts General Hospital, U.S.A.
  • 1978    The Cloetta Prize of Foundation Professor Dr. Max Cloetta, Switzerland