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Humboldt-Universität scientist wins the Wiley Prize for Biomedical Sciences 2010

Professor Hegemann discovers the light-gated ion channel channelrhodopsin

Light switches for nerve cells - what was once a dream has only recently become a fact. Peter Hegemann, Professor of Molecular Biophysics at Humboldt-Univeristät zu Berlin and two of his colleagues - Prof. Georg Nagel (Wuerzburg) and Prof. Ernst Bamberg (Frankfurt) - were awarded the Wiley Prize for Biomedical Sciences 2010. The jury honors the three scientists for their discovery of channelrhodopsins, a family of light-activated ion channels.

Not only contributes this discovery to basic research, but also to the opening up of novel opportunities for investigating nerve cells possibly resulting in new methods of treatment for neurodegenerative diseases, such as macular degeneration, Parkinson’s disease or epilepsy. In the future, it might be possible that nerve cells in the brain of those patients could be "switched on or off" as necessary in a controlled manner using light conducting glass fibers, in order to eliminate the corresponding symptoms of the disease.

The award is to be presented at a ceremony on April 9th, 2010 at Rockefeller University in New York.

The Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences is intended to recognize breakthrough research in pure or applied life science research that is distinguished by its excellence, originality and impact on our understanding of biological systems and processes. Particular emphasis will be placed on research that champions novel approaches and challenges accepted thinking in the biomedical sciences. This award is presented annually and consists of a $35,000 prize and a luncheon in honor of the recipient.

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