Professor Morgan Sheng FMedSci FRS
Morgan Sheng is a neurobiologist whose molecule-by-molecule analysis of the mammalian nerve synapse has created tools for understanding the neural basis of cognitive processes, including learning and dementia. He has focused on the formation of protein complexes in the postsynaptic membrane that regulate the remarkable plasticity of neuronal connections.
Morgan’s work identified modular regions within postsynaptic proteins — known as PDZ domains — that form attachments to other proteins and so help to hold together signalling complexes at cellular membranes. He has also explored how postsynaptic proteins regulate synapse structure and function and how they underlie the ability of synapses to change their strength in response to experience.
Using mass spectrometry and electron microscopy on synapses in isolation, Morgan has counted the molecules of each type of protein and imaged the structure of the complexes they form. He won the IPSEN Prize for Neuronal Plasticity in 2006, and since 2008 has been Head of Neuroscience for a large biotechnology company where he studies the molecular mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases.