Peter Hegemann receives 2020 Shaw Prize


Gero Miesenböck, Peter Hegemann and Georg Nagel receive the 2020 Prize in Life Science & Medicine!

The Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine 2020 is awarded in equal shares to Gero Miesenböck, Waynflete Professor of Physiology and Director of the Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour, University of Oxford, UK, Peter Hegemann, Hertie Professor for Neuroscience and Head of the Department of Biophysics, Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany and Georg Nagel, Professor for Molecular Plant-Physiology, Department for Molecular Plant-Physiology and Biophysics–Botany I, University of Würzburg, Germany for the development of optogenetics, a technology that has revolutionized neuroscience.

Understanding the brain will require a means of deciphering the language nerve cells use to communicate with each other. The challenge is daunting given the complexity of connections among the 86 billion nerve cells in the human brain. Each neuron may make as many as 10,000 contacts with other neurons resulting in nearly 1 trillion synaptic connections. The tools that allow us to trace and regulate neural networks in experimental animals have emerged in recent years and thanks to the discoveries of our Shaw Life Science Awardees for 2020: Gero Miesenböck of Oxford University, Peter Hegemann of Humboldt University, Berlin, and Georg Nagel of the University of Würzburg.

Peter Hegemann is a biophysicist. The focus of his work is algae research. He analyses sensory photoreceptors from microalgae and is one of the discoverers of channel rhodopsins. These light-sensitive proteins are the basis for the scientific field of optogenetics, which Peter Hegemann co-founded. Optogenetics enables new types of investigations of neuronal networks.

The Shaw Prize

The Shaw Prize is an international award to honour individuals who are currently active in their respective fields and who have recently achieved distinguished and significant advances, who have made outstanding contributions in academic and scientific research or applications, or who in other domains have achieved excellence. The award is dedicated to furthering societal progress, enhancing quality of life, and enriching humanity's spiritual civilization.
 Preference is given to individuals whose significant works were recently achieved and who are currently active in their respective fields.
The Shaw Prize consists of three annual awards: the Prize in Astronomy, the Prize in Life Science and Medicine, and the Prize in Mathematical Sciences. Each prize carries a monetary award of one million two hundred thousand US dollars. The nomination process begins in September, the winners are announced in the following summer and the prizes are presented in autumn.
The Shaw Prize, established under the auspices of Mr Run Run Shaw in November 2002, is managed and administered by The Shaw Prize Foundation based in Hong Kong.

More information about the Shaw Prize

Source: The Shaw Prize

Prof. Dr. Peter Hegemann
Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
Institute of Biology, Experimental Biophysics
NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence
E-Mail: Hegemann(at)


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