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Jean-Pierre Changeux

Jean-Pierre Changeux (born in Domont, France, April 7 1936) is a French neuroscientist, who researched many different areas of biology in his life (although not dead yet so that sentence needs revising), from the structure and function of proteins, to the early development of the nervous system. He reached fame in the scientific world for his work on allosteric proteins. However, it was with the publication of his book Neuronal Man: The Biology of The Mind in 1985 that Changeux reached celebrity status in the wider public.

Currently, he works at the Collège de France and the Institut Pasteur as professor for molecular neurobiology. He is member of the World Knowledge Dialogue Scientific Board. He was the winner of the Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science, 2004.



Jean-Pierre Changeux began working on the brain in the 1960s. He wrote a thesis under the direction of two of the fathers of molecular biology, Jacques Monod and Francois Jacob on the concept of allosteric interaction. After tireless years of enquiry he is currently engaged in innovative research on the nicotinic receptors in the central nervous system. Besides his academic career, Changeux has headed the National Advisory Committee on Bioethics in France and has also chaired a high-level commission at the Louvre.


  • 1977 - Alexandre-Joannidès prize of Academy of sciences
  • 1978 - Gairdner Prize
  • 1982 - Wolf Foundation Prize in Medicine
  • 1982 - prize Richard-Lounsbery of Academy of sciences
  • 1983 - literacy prize Broquette-Gonin of French academy for the "l'Homme neuronal"
  • 1985 - prize Céline.
  • 1986 - prize F.-O- Schmitt of the Neursosciences Research Institute.
  • 1988 - Rita-Levi-Montalcini prize of the Fidia Foundation
  • 1990 - Bristol-Myers-Squibb prize of the Neurosciences Research Institute.
  • 1991 - Carl-Gustav-Bernhard medal 0f the Swedish academy of science
  • 1992 - Gold-medal of the CNRS.
  • 1993 - Louis-Jeantet price for Medecine
  • 1994 - Goodman and Gilman Award
  • 1996 - Max-Delbrück Medal
  • 1997 - Award of the Fundation for medical research, Paris
  • 1997 - Prize Jean-Louis Signoret, Neuropsychology, Ipsen Fundation
  • 1998 - Prize Emanuel Merck, Chemistry, Darmastadt
  • 1998/1999 - Linus Pauling medal, Stanford, USA
  • 1999 - Prize Eli Lilly, Neurosciences, European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, London
  • 2000 - Langley Award for basic research on nicotine and tobacco, Washington
  • 2001 - Balzan Prize in Cognitive Neurosciences, Bern
  • 2006 - Award of the Biotechnology Study Center, together with E. Kandel (Nobel prize of medecine 2000)


Jean-Pierre Changeux reached the fame in the scientific area as soon as his PhD training, when he designed, under the direction of Jacques Monod and Francois Jacob the model of concerted transition for allosteric proteins. The main idea of this theory is that proteins can exist under various conformations in the absence of regulators, the latter merely shifting the equilibrium between the conformations. This conceptual framework is still one of the principal models used to explain the function of proteins. During all his scientific career, Jean-Pierre Changeux will reuse the idea that selection is the basis of life rather than instruction. In 1970, he isolated the nicotinic receptor of the eel electric organ, the first ever isolated membrane pharmacological receptor. His career will then firmly shift toward Molecular Neurobiology, then a nascent field. In 1973 with Philippe Courrège and Antoine Danchin, he proposed the theory of epigenetic by selective stabilization of synapses, the precursor of the "neural Darwinism". Since the mid-70s he has been one of the key player in Molecular Neurosciences, in particular regarding the reward and learning systems. Developing in parallel theory and experiments, and consistently making ground-breaking discoveries, he paved the way to modern investigation in neurobiology.

Jean-Pierre Changeux's outstanding contributions have been recognized by the Balzan Prize, Linus Pauling Medal, Max Delbruck Medal, Louis Jeantet Prize, Gold Medal of the French CNRS, Richard Lounsbery Prize and Gairdner Foundation International Award, The Wolf Foundation Prize, among other honors.

Jean-Pierre Changeux is most noted by the non-scientific public for his controversial ideas and beliefs in the connection between mind and physical brain. As put forth in one of his recent publication, Conversations on Mind, Matter and Mathematics, Changeux strongly sides with the statement 'The Nervous System is active rather than reactive'.


  • Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors: From Molecular Biology to Cognition (2004) (together with Stuart Edelstein)
  • What Makes Us Think. A Neuroscientist and a Philosopher Argue About Ethics, Human Nature, and the Brain (2002) (together with Paul Ricœur)
  • Review of What Makes Us Think by Howard Gardner [1]
  • Review of What Makes Us Think by Elliott White [2]
  • Conversations on Mind, Matter and Mathematics (2002) (together with Alain Connes)
  • Neuronal Man: The Biology of Mind (1985)

Classic scientific papers

  • Monod J, Wyman J, Changeux JP (1965). On the nature of allosteric transitions: a plausible model. Journal of Molecular Biology 12: 88-118.
  • Changeux JP, Kasai M, Lee CY (1970). Use of a snake venom toxin to characterize cholinergic receptor protein. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 67: 1241-1247 (the first purification of a neurotransmitter receptor)
  • Changeux JP, Courrege P, Danchin A (1973). Theory of epigenesis of neuronal networks by selective stabilization of synapses. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 70: 2974-2978.
  • Giraudat J, Dennis M, Heidmann T, Chang JY, Changeux JP (1986). Structure of the high affinity site for noncompetitive blockers of the acetylcholine receptor: serine-262 of the delta subunit is labeled by [3H]-chlorpromazine. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 83: 2719-2723.
  • Nonmyogenic factors bind nicotinic acetylcholine promoter elements required for response to denervation. by Bessereau J.-L., Laudenbach V., Le Poupon C., Changeux J.-P. (1998).J Biol Chem, 273 : 12786-12793. 98250719
  • Brain nicotinic receptors: structure and regulation, role in learning and reinforcement. by Changeux J.-P., Bertrand D., Corringer P.-J., Dehaene S., Edelstein S., Léna C., Le Novère N., Marubio L., Picciotto M., Zoli M. (1998). Brain Res Rev, 26 : 198-216. 98316245
  • Hierarchical neuronal modeling of cognitive functions: from synaptic transmission to the Tower of London. Changeux J.-P., Dehaene S. (1998). CR Acad Sci Paris 321, 241-247. 98431512
  • Drug use and abuse. by Changeux J.-P. (1998). J Am Acad Arts Sci Daedalus, 127 : 145-165.
  • Allosteric receptors after 30 years. by Changeux JP, Edelstein SJ (1998). Neuron 1998 21(5):959-80. 99072274
  • Critical elements determining diversity in agonist binding and desensitization of neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. by Corringer PJ, Bertrand S, Bohler S, Edelstein SJ, Changeux JP, Bertrand D (1998). J Neurosci 18 : 648-657. 98086317
  • A neuronal model of a global workspace in effortful cognitive tasks. by Dehaene S, Kerszberg M, Changeux JP (1998). Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 95 : 14529-14534. 9904571898316245
  • Allosteric transitions of the acetylcholine receptor. by Edelstein S., Changeux J.P. (1998). In Linkage thermodynamics of macromolecular interactions. Advances in protein chemistry. 51 : 121-184. 98277375
  • Differential susceptibility of young and old rat neuromuscular junctions to antibody-mediated AChR degradation in experimental autoimmune myasthenia gravis. by Hoedemaekers A, Bessereau JL, Graus Y, Guyon T, Changeux JP, Berrih-Aknin S, Van Breda Vriesman P, De Baets M (1998). Ann N Y Acad Sci 13;841:550-4. 98332890
  • Role of the target organ in determining susceptibility to experimental autoimmune myasthenia gravis. Hoedemaekers A, Bessereau JL, Graus Y, Guyon T, Changeux JP, Berrih-Aknin S, van Breda Vriesman P, De Baets MH (1998). J Neuroimmunol 14;89(1-2):131-41. 98393436
  • Mechanisms for positional signalling by morphogen transport: a theoretical study. by Kerszberg M., Wolpert L. (1998). J Theor Biol 191 : 103-114. 98256415
  • A simple model of neurulation. by Kerszberg M., Changeux J.P. (1998).Bioessay, 20 : 758-770. 99037000
  • Ivermectin : a positive allosteric effector of the a7 neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. by hKrause R.M., Bertrand S., Corringer P.J., Galzi J.L., Changeux J.-P., Bertrand D. (1998). Mol Pharmacol 53, 283-294. 98130700
  • Identification of Four Classes of Brain Nicotinic Receptors Using b2 Mutant Mice. by Zoli M, Léna C, Picciotto MR, Changeux JP (1998). J Neurosci 18 : 4461-4472. 98279059

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Jean-Pierre_Changeux". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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