The Gruber Foundation proudly presents the 2020 Neuroscience Prize to Friedrich Bonhoeffer, Corey Goodman and Marc Tessier-Lavigne for elucidating developmental mechanisms that guide axons to their targets, a key step in formation of neural circuits.
Bonhoeffer devised assays enabling isolation of guidance molecules. Using these assays, he discovered that guidance results from a balance between attractive and repellent signals; he then identified key repellent molecules.
Goodman pioneered the use of genetic screens in fruit flies to discover gene families controlling axon guidance. Many molecules that he discovered are evolutionarily conserved, all the way to humans.
Tessier-Lavigne combined evolutionary insights with incisive assays to identify mammalian guidance molecules. His analyses of these molecules and downstream signaling provided insights into how growing axons are steered to their targets.