Distinguished French neuroscientist, recipient of a PhD honoris causa

Prof. Jean-Pierre Changeux is  a  renowned neuroscientist  and  an  influential  cultural  figure  at the interface between science and the humanities, and  between  the  scientific  community  and  the general public. His research established the basis for understanding the mechanism of nicotine dependency, the effect of nicotine on learning, and the role of nervous system receptors in relation to pain, Alzheimer’s disease, and the aging process.

Changeux was born in Domont, France. As a graduate student at Institut Pasteur under the guidance of Jacques Monod and François Jacob, he made his mark by defining and providing experimental evidence for allostery, a fundamental concept in biochemistry, biology, and applied pharmacology. Together with Monod and Jeffries Wyman, he proposed a plausible model to describe the phenomenon in a paper that has been cited more than 6,500 times.

He received his PhD in 1964 and continued to postdoctoral fellowships at the University of California-Berkeley and at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York. Changeux returned to the Institut Pasteur in 1967, where he remains since. He also served as professor at the College de France from 1975 through 2006.

Changeux's research findings have proved essential to the understanding of synapse formation, plasticity over time and during aging, and of mental disorders; and have shed new light on crucial factors associated with child development and education. His research formed the  basis  for  clinical  tests now underway with nicotine-based  drugs for  Alzheimer’s  disease, Parkinson’s disease, depression, schizophrenia, ADHD, pain, and tobacco addiction. In addition, he has used computational modeling to understand the neurobiological basis of cognitive functions, work which has inspired new research on the effects of general anesthetics and drug addiction.

A prominent collector of 17th Century French art, Changeux curated an exhibition at Le Grand Palais in Paris. He has authored several books that synthesize his scientific and philosophical perspectives, including Neuronal Man, which has been translated into many languages. His multi-faceted oeuvre consists of more than 600 scientific articles and several books, both scientific and for the general audience.

His numerous awards include the Wolf Prize in Medicine  in  1982; the  Carl-Gustav-Bernhard medal of the Swedish Academy of Science in 1991; the CNRS Gold medal  in  1992;  the Balzan Prize for Cognitive Neurosciences in 2001; the Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science  in  2005; the National Academy of Sciences' (NAS) Award in the Neurosciences in 2007; the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) award for eminent scientists in 2012; and many others. He is also a member of many international scientific academies and holds honorary degrees from leading institutions worldwide.

For more than 40 years, Changeux has been a steadfast friend to Israel and to the Weizmann Institute, and a valued colleague and mentorto Institute scientists.

Jean Pierre Changeux