Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences Awarded to Prof. Hegemann

Thursday, 18. February 2010

The ninth annual Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences will be awarded to UniCat senior scientist Dr. Peter Hegemann, Professor of Molecular Biophysics, Humboldt University, Berlin.

Peter Hegemann

Peter Hegemann will share the award with Dr. Georg Nagel, Professor of Molecular Plant Physiology, Department of Botany, University of Wuerzburg; and Dr. Ernst Bamberg, Professor and Director of the Dept of Biophysical Chemistry, Max-Planck Institute of Biophysics, Frankfurt, Germany. 

“The Wiley Prize is being awarded to Dr. Hegemann, Dr. Nagel, and Dr. Bamberg for their discovery of a light activated ion channel," said Dr. Günter Blobel, Chairman of the awards jury for the Wiley Prize. “The use of channelrhodopsins has revolutionized the study of networks in the brain.”

Dr. Hegemann, Dr. Nagel, and Dr. Bamberg were selected for their discovery of channelrhodopsins, a family of light-activated ion channels. The channelrhodopsin proteins ChR1 and ChR2 were originally isolated from the single-celled green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, where they were found to be involved in the process of phototaxis, i.e. movement towards or away from light. However, channelrhodopsins can also be inserted into other excitable cells such as neurons, allowing for the study of neural networks using light stimulation in cell culture as well as in living animals with up to now unknown temporal and spatial resolution. The discovery has greatly enlarged and strengthened the new field of optogenetics. Channelrhodopsins also provide a high potential for biomedical applications such as the recovery of vision and optical deep brain stimulation for treatment of Parkinson’s and other diseases, instead of the more invasive electrode-based treatments.

The Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences recognizes contributions that have opened new fields of research or have advanced novel concepts or their applications in a particular biomedical discipline. It honors a specific contribution or a series of contributions that demonstrate significant leadership and innovation. The award will be presented to Dr. Hegemann, Dr. Nagel, and Dr. Bamberg on April 9 at The Rockefeller University, New York City.

Among the many distinguished past recipients of the Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences, five have also been awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn and Dr. Carol Greider, recipients of the Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences in 2006, received the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase. Dr. Andrew Z. Fire and Dr. Craig C. Mello, co-recipients of the Wiley Prize in 2003, received the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of RNA interference—gene silencing by double-stranded RNA. Dr. H. Robert Horvitz, a co-recipient of the first Wiley Prize in 2002, shared the 2002 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his respective work on how genes regulate organ development and cell death.

The Wiley Foundation and the Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences were established in 2001 to acknowledge the contributions of the scholarly community to the Company's corporate success. Through this award Wiley seeks to recognize and foster ongoing excellence in scientific achievement and discovery.

For more information see at Wiley-VCH.

German text.