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Ernst Bamberg awarded the Brain Prize 2013

Biophysicist Ernst Bamberg, Director at the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics in Frankfurt, receives together with five other scientists the 1 million Euro "Brain Prize 2013" from the Grete Lundbeck European Brain Research Foundation. Ernst Bamberg, Georg Nagel and Peter Hegemann together with Edvard Boyden, Karl Deisseroth and Gero Miesenböck receive the award for their work as discoverers and pioneers of optogenetics (link).

Optogenetics is based on the discovery of Georg Nagel, Peter Hegemann and Ernst Bamberg  of light regulated ion channels, which they named channelrhodopsins based on their molecular and functional characteristics. After a series of collaborations Ed Boyden and Karl Deisseroth managed together with Georg Nagel, Ernst Bamberg and Peter Hegemann to inject the genetic code for the channelrhodopsins into neurons in culture as well as into the brain of animals, making the cells light sensitive. As a result these nerve cells can be regulated and targeted with a very high level of precision. The scientific pioneers and their colleagues have extensively improved the original approaches thereby providing new methods to analyze complex processes of neuronal circuits. In animals, new approaches of treating neuronal disorders such Parkinson's disease, epilepsy and certain kinds of blindness have been tested successfully.

Optogenetics has revolutionised neurobiology within only a few years. It is used in more than 1000 laboratories worldwide already, yielding a whole range of outstanding results. Bamberg, Hegemann and Nagel realised the potential of their discovery early on: in 2002 they documented their ideas in a patent, which has since been licensed to a pharmaceutical company for a gene therapy approach for treating neurodegenerative diseases of the eye.

The award ceremony for the Brain Prize will take place on 2 May 2013 in Copenhagen.


Press release Max-Planck-Institute of Biophysics

Website The Brain Prize

Press release Grete Lundbeck European Brain Research Foundation


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