Professor Michael Brecht receives Liebniz Prize 2012
Award for original pioneering work in neurobiology
Prof. Dr. Michael Brecht, member of the NeuroCure Board of Directors and Speaker of the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience and the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, received the prestigious Gottfried Wilhelm Liebniz Prize of the German Research Foundation (DFG) 2012 worth 2.5 million euros, on 27th February. In a statement, the DFG explained: „The Leibniz Prize for Michael Brecht honours a scientist whose original research approaches and innovative methods have broken new ground in neurobiology.“
„I am extremely pleased about this award and believe that this honor recognizes the successes and accomplishments of our entire team. I am very grateful for the excellent working conditions, superb colleagues and broad support of neuroscience research in Berlin. We would like to use the prize money to better understand how nerve cells control complex behaviors,“ says prize winner Prof. Michael Brecht.
Prof. Michael Brecht has been Professor for Animal Physiology at the Humboldt-Universität since 2006. Brecht’s research, which has led worldwide to notable breakthroughs and numerous publications in Nature, Science and Neuron, deals with the neuronal foundations of behavior. He pioneered the „in vivo whole-cell“ method, which allows precise measurements of individual nerve cells in the intact brain. Particularly spectacular is his analysis of single neurons in freely moving rodents. Over the last few years he has further refined and simplified this method so that it can now be very efficiently used to identify cells in freely rmoving animals.
„We congratulate Professor Brecht and are very pleased about this exceptional prize. It is also an award for the Humboldt-Universität, which provides excellent conditions for interdisciplinary research. The Humboldt-Universität (HU) will continue to pursue its commitment to interdisciplinary research through its Integrative Research Institutes,“ says HU President, Prof. Dr. Jan-Hendrik Olbertz.
Michael Brecht, as Speaker of the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience (BCCN), has built new bridges to physics and mathematics departments of the Berlin universities and, in doing so, secured an extension for the BCCN. As a member of the Board of Directors, Michael Brecht has also made a fundamental contribution to the successful establishment of the Cluster of Excellence NeuroCure and continuation of the Collaborative Research Center Theoretical Biology. In the current round of the Excellence Initiative he has played a central role in setting up the Integrative Research Institute for Life Sciences (IRI). In this research institute, the HU, Charité and Max Delbrück Center (MDC) for Molecular Medicine will jointly create a new science-oriented cooperation structure to respond creatively to current challenges in the life sciences.
The Leibniz Prize has been awarded annually by the DFG since 1986. The prize aims to improve the working conditions of exceptional scientists, extend their research opportunities, lessen their administrative load and make it easier for them to hire qualified young researchers. The prize money of 2.5 million euros may be used for their scientific work within seven years according to the prize winner’s wishes and with minimal bureaucratic effort.
So far, 313 scientists have received this award, recognized as one of the most important science prizes worldwide; six recipients were also awarded the Nobel Prize after receiving the Leibniz Prize. Prof. Michael Brecht is, alongside Prof. Nikolaus Ernsting (1998), Prof. Christoph Markschies (2001), Prof. Dominik Perler (2006) und Prof. Susanne Albers (2008), the fifth scientist of the Humboldt-Universität to be awarded the Liebniz Prize.