Susumu Tomita, PhD, Yale University

Susumu Tomita, PhD
Susumu Tomita, PhD

The Tomita laboratory's approach to understand the brain is to reduce the brain to various components and ultimately molecules. Temporally, neurotransmission by a major excitatory neurotransmitter, glutamate, is very quick and is clearly essential for brain function; however, the modulation of brain function underlying learning, memory, emotion, cognition, etc., happens on a different time scale than that of neurotransmission. Their broad goal is to understand how basic synaptic transmission can be modulated over seconds to hours, thereby supporting complex brain functions. The efficacy of synaptic transmission is determined by glutamate concentration at the synaptic cleft and by the number and channel properties of the glutamate receptors, which can be modulated by neuronal activation (synaptic plasticity). They have uncovered a network of modulatory proteins for glutamate receptors to control their number and properties. By understanding the machinery that controls the number and channel properties of glutamate receptors, they hope to reveal the principal rules governing synaptic transmission and synaptic plasticity.



  1. Tomita S, Chen L, Kawasaki Y, Petralia RS, Wenthold RJ, Nicoll RA, Bredt DS. Functional studies and distribution define a family of transmembrane AMPA receptor regulatory proteins. J Cell Biol. 2003 May 26;161(4):805-16.