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Gero Miesenböck, Waynflete Professor of Physiology and Director of the Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour, (CNBC) is one of this year's recipients of the Jacob Heskel Gabbay Award in Biotechnology and Medicine. The Gabbay award was created by the Jacob and Louise Gabbay Foundation and recognises scientists in academia, medicine, or industry whose work has outstanding scientific content and significant practical consequences in biomedical sciences.   Gero shares the award for ‘contributions to the discovery and applications of optogenetics’ with Karl Deisseroth from Stanford and Edward S. Boyden from the M.I.T.

Gero Miesenböck laid the foundations of optogenetics in 2002 when his group reported the expression of a genetically engineered rhodopsin construct in neuronal cultures and the subsequent activation of these cells by light. The field has flourished, and now scientists across the worlds use optogenetics to remotely activate neurones in invertebrates and vertebrates.  The CNCB is supported by a Strategic Award from the Wellcome Trust and the Gatsby Charitable Foundation. Much of the work at the CNBC is performed in drosophila as this experimental organism benefits from a wealth of genetic and behavioural characterization.

You can see Gero’s TED talk ‘Re-engineering the brain’ here