Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we will assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you will not see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Professor Gero Miesenböck, the Waynflete Professor of Physiology and Director of the Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour, is one of three scientists awarded The Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine.

Gero Miesenböck has won the Massry Prize 2016 for his work on optogeneticsProfessor Gero Miesenböck has received The Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine 2020 "for the development of optogenetics, a technology that has revolutionized neuroscience."

Optogenetics is a technique that uses light to control the activity of nerve cells. It provides a direct means of probing the organisation of neural circuits and of identifying the brain processes underlying perception, action, emotion, and thought. Professor Miesenböck was the first to demonstrate optogenetic control of neural activity and animal behaviour. His foundational studies led to an explosion in optogenetic applications and technical improvements.The field has ultimately transformed neuroscientific research and opened new possibilities for the treatment of brain disorders. 

On receiving the award, Professor Miesenböck said: “I’m delighted that the selection committee looked carefully at the history of optogenetics and recognised the first discoveries that launched the field.”

Head of Department Professor David Paterson said: "This is a major achievement representing international excellence in research and discovery. The Department is delighted that Gero has been duly recognised."

Professor Miesenböck shares the award with Peter Hegemann, Hertie Professor for Neuroscience and Head of the Department of Biophysics at the Humboldt University of Berlin, and Georg Nagel, Professor for Molecular Plant-Physiology, Department for Molecular Plant-Physiology and Biophysics–Botany I at the University of Würzburg.

The Shaw Prize consists of three annual prizes: Astronomy, Life Science and Medicine, and Mathematical Sciences, each bearing a monetary award of $1.2 million. The Prize honours individuals who have achieved significant breakthroughs in academic and scientific research and whose works have resulted in a positive and profound impact on mankind.

Read more on The Shaw Prize Foundation website.

Read more about Professor Miesenböck's development of optogenetics on the Oxford University Medium Blog.

Similar stories

Same genome, different worlds: How a similar brain causes sexually dimorphic behaviours

CNCB Goodwin Group News Publication Research

A new paper from the Goodwin group based in DPAG's Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour has shown how males and females are programmed differently in terms of sex.

Lukas Krone to represent Oxford at the Global Young Scientists Summit

Awards and Honours EDI News Head of Department's News Students Vyazovskiy Group News

Congratulations are in order for Dr Lukas Krone who is one of just five University of Oxford researchers selected to attend the Global Young Scientists Summit 2021.

A clue to how a memory-enhancing pill might work

CNCB Publication Research

Hundreds of dietary supplements have been reported to improve cognitive and emotional function in humans, but few have scientific foundation. A new study from the Waddell group provides fresh insight into how dietary Magnesium supplementation can influence memory performance.

Two major BHF awards to Neil Herring pave the way to new treatments for heart attack patients

Awards and Honours Cardiac Theme Herring Group News

Associate Professor Neil Herring has been awarded a Senior Clinical Research Fellowship and a Project grant from the British Heart Foundation to further critical research into the mechanisms behind heart attacks and heart failure and potential drugs to combat them. Given the 50% reduction in research investment this year from the BHF due to the impact of COVID-19, Prof Herring is to be congratulated on these awards.

Pawel Swietach becomes Professor Pawel Swietach

Awards and Honours Head of Department's News

Congratulations are in order to Pawel Swietach on his conferral of the title of full Professor. Research in the Swietach Lab is driven by an interest in how biological processes are affected by chemical acidity.