Fellow wins international Shaw prize 2020



Today, Thursday 21 May, it has been announced that one of our Fellows, Professor Gero Miesenböck FRS FMedSci, Waynflete Professor of Physiology and Director of the Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour at the University of Oxford, has been jointly awarded  The Shaw Prize in Life Sciences and Medicine.

Professor Miesenböck has been awarded this prestigious international prize together with Professor Peter Hegemann and Professor Georg Nagel for the development of optogenetics, a technology that has revolutionized neuroscience.

On the news of this win, Professor Sir Robert Lechler PMedSci, President of The Academy of Medical Sciences, said:

“I am delighted to hear that our Fellow Professor Gero Miesenböck FRS FMedSci has been jointly awarded the Shaw Prize in Life Sciences and Medicine, and offer my warmest congratulations to Gero and his fellow laureates for this fantastic achievement.

“This win is a terrific example of how the work of our Fellows is some of the best and most ground-breaking in the world, crossing all boarders and standing out internationally.

“In these troubling times it is crucial that we continue to celebrate shining examples of science such a Gero’s, whose pioneering work has paved the way for countless discoveries within the field of neurology, allowing researchers across the globe to investigate questions about the brain.”

Professor Miesenböck has made a series of ground-breaking discoveries in his career and is known as the founder of optogenetics – a technique that uses light to control genetically modified neurons to manipulate cells within the brain. Optogenetics has been instrumental in recent studies on the function of the brain. Professor Miesenböck developed this technique and was the first to show that it could be used to alter the behaviour of his model organism, the fruit fly, paving the way for others in his field to use his findings to map brain function and much more. With Professor Miesenböck’s research we now know a lot more about the brain and how it works, from how neurons inside the brain communicate to how memories are stored, to looking at the effects of stroke on the brain.  

The Shaw Prize consists of three annual prizes: Astronomy, Life Science and Medicine, and Mathematical Sciences, each bearing a monetary award of US$1.2 million. This will be the seventeenth year of the awards.

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