29. May 2020
Peter Hegemann receives Award
© Hector Fellow Academy

Peter Hegemann receives Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine

On May 21, 2020, Hector Fellow Peter Hegemann along­side two other researchers received the Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine of the Hongkong Shaw Prize Founda­tion. The recip­i­ents were honored for the devel­op­ment of optoge­net­ics, a technol­ogy that revolu­tion­izes neuroscience.

Accord­ing to the decision commit­tee, the distin­guished scien­tists devel­oped a method that allows the use of tools to visual­ize and precisely control specific neural networks in the brain of an animal. This founda­tional, basic science discov­ery allows new poten­tial appli­ca­tions in psychi­atric disor­ders that are only now being defined at the level of genes and cells.

Hegemann demon­strated by gene cloning the existence of the channel protein ChR2, which elicits an extremely fast, light-induced change in membrane current when the gene is expressed in verte­brate cells. This discov­ery has enabled various functional appli­ca­tions in a variety of cells and tissues and can there­fore be consid­ered as a major step in the devel­op­ment of optogenetics.

Congrat­u­la­tions to Peter Hegemann!