Susumu Tonegawa life and biography

Susumu Tonegawa picture, image, poster

Susumu Tonegawa biography

Date of birth : 1939-09-06
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Nagoya, Japan
Nationality : Japanese
Category : Science and Technology
Last modified : 2011-12-15
Credited as : scientist, won the Nobel Prize for his work in immunology, discovered the genetic mechanisms of antibodies

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Susumu Tonegawa is a Japanese scientist who won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1987 for his discovery of the genetic mechanism that produces antibody diversity. Although he won the Nobel Prize for his work in immunology, Tonegawa is a molecular biologist by training. In his later years, he has turned his attention to the molecular and cellular basis of memory formation.

Susumu Tonegawa discovered the genetic mechanisms of antibodies. There are known to be millions of different antibodies in the human immune system, all generated by only about 100,000 genes; Tonegawa deduced that this remarkable diversity of human antibodies springs from a small number of gene fragments, which are naturally rearranged at random in myriad different combinations, to generate different antibodies. In 1987, Tonegawa was awarded the highest honor in science, the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology.

In 2006, he was involved in an academic scandal at MIT, sparked by an email he sent to Alla Karpova, a young neuroscientist whom he perceived as a potential rival. In the note, Tonegawa was cordial, even complimentary, but stated that if Karpova was hired as junior faculty at MIT he would not collaborate with her, and his research group would "be very reluctant" to interact with her. Karpova found work elsewhere, and an investigation by university faculty found that Tonegawa's note was "inappropriate." He resigned his administrative post at MIT, but the university said he had not been asked to do so, and he retained his professorship.

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