Creating the Future
Press release
Hector Science Award 2015


28. January 2016

Hector Science Award 2015 for one of the “fathers” of optogenetics

Prof. Dr. Peter Hegemann from Berlin new Hector Fellow

HEIDELBERG/WEINHEIM. Prof. Dr. Peter Hegemann (Humboldt Univer­sity of Berlin) received the Hector Science Award 2016 for his outstand­ing accom­plish­ments in the field of optoge­net­ics. This field of research involves the control of genet­i­cally modified cells by light.

During the award ceremony There­sia Bauer, minis­ter of science in Baden-Württem­berg, recog­nized Hegemann’s courage to break new ground with his research and to give great impetus in science.

Hegemann's basic research deals with light-sensi­tive proteins (protein molecules). He discov­ered a kind of molec­u­lar light switch (channel rhodopsin), with which one can control cells very precisely. It enabled brain researchers to study certain nerve cells with relatively simple means and to search for thera­peu­tic approaches. Hegemann, for example, succeeded in stimu­lat­ing individ­ual nerve cells with light of unprece­dented preci­sion, thereby bring­ing about specific behav­ioral changes in mice. Scien­tists around the world are now looking for ways to use this tool one day in humans. The focus is on the treat­ment of Parkinson's and other diseases.

Hector Science Award 2015

f.l.: Dr. h.c. Hans-Werner Hector, Josephine Hector, Minis­terin There­sia Bauer, Prof. Dr. Peter Hegemann