A life in science: Eric Shooter

Eric Shooter

Professor of neurobiology, emeritus active

MA and PhD, Cambridge University, UK

Arrived at Stanford in 1964

Member of the National Academy of Sciences and fellow of the Royal Society


Neurobiology professor Eric Shooter will deliver a lecture at 4:15 p.m. Thursday in Fairchild Auditorium, reflecting on his career at Stanford.


Shooter has spent four decades learning about how nerves grow. One of his key contributions was discovering the protein known as nerve growth factor, which plays a key role in regrowing lost or damaged nerve cells.

Shooter's presentation inaugurates the School of Medicine's new Emeritus Lecture program to celebrate the extraordinary research and teaching accomplishments of faculty members as they achieve emeritus status.

As Shooter makes this transition, Medical Center Report asked him to share his thoughts about his life and career.


My interest in science was sparked by: Innate curiosity about nature. Also in high school I enjoyed doing experiments more than writing essays, so I chose the science track.

Most important mentor: My older (by two years) brother. He was really the smart one and he helped me greatly to follow in his footsteps through high school and Cambridge. He unfortunately died too young of cancer brought on by wartime research.

Most important discovery to come out of my group: Isolating and characterization of nerve growth factor.

The one thing I would rescue from my burning laboratory: Any remaining personnel in the laboratory. After that, my collected reprints and/or laptop.

Advice to young scientists: Only take up science if you really enjoy it. If you do, you will have a wonderful career. Select your mentors for their humanity as well as scientific expertise.

If I had unlimited resources, the one scientific question I would pursue: How to alleviate or cure the inherited neurological diseases.

How I plan to spend my time: Reading, writing and traveling.

What I do for fun: Reading, writing and traveling.

Accomplishments: The successes of several generations of students and postdoctoral fellows in academia and industry.