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Fellows Directory

Thomas Jessell

Thomas Jessell

Professor Thomas Jessell FMedSci FRS


Elected: 1996


Thomas Jessell was a biochemist and molecular biophysicist who was renowned for his studies of the mechanisms that control the assembly and function of neural circuits in the spinal cord. Thomas worked to understand how nerve cells in the developing spinal cord assemble into functional circuits that control sensory perception and motor actions, with a focus on locomotion and skilled reaching.

He used insight into the molecular origins of neuronal subtypes to devise genetic methods to monitor and manipulate the activity of selected interneuron classes, permitting a clearer view of the design of systems and circuits involved in the planning and execution of movement. Ultimately, his research may provide a more thorough understanding of how the central nervous system is constructed and suggest new ways to repair diseased or damaged neurons in the human brain and spinal cord.

Thomas was an Editor of the influential textbook, Principles of Neural Science and he received the Kavli Prize for Neuroscience, as well as the Canada Gairdner International and Gruber prizes.

Professor Thomas Jessell FMedSci FRS died on 29 April 2019.

Interest and expertise


Motor Control,  Neural Connectivity, Synapses


  • Kavli Prize

    In the field of neuroscience for discoveries on the developmental and functional logic of neuronal circuits.

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