The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation proudly presents the 2007 Neuroscience Prize to Shigetada Nakanishi who developed tools that enabled him and others to probe fundamental molecular mechanisms of nervous system function. By expressing genes in frog oocytes, he discovered new genes of the nervous system and identified novel membrane receptors. Some of these receptors respond to peptide hormones and others to glutamate, the major excitatory chemical signal of the brain. These receptors are critical for many vital processes of the nervous system, including learning, memory and vision.
More recently, he has devised and applied elegant techniques to understand in detail how receptors on neuron membranes act at critical stages in the operation of synaptic circuits. His work integrates multiple levels of neuroscience, from molecules to complex neuronal networks.