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!