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