Prize Recipients

2019 Recipient

Gero Miesenböck
University of Oxford

Gero Miesenböck is Waynflete Professor of Physiology and founding Director of the Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour at the University of Oxford. Before coming to Oxford in 2007, he held faculty appointments at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Yale University. Miesenböck was the first scientist to modify neurons genetically so that their electrical activity could be controlled with light. This involved inserting DNA for light-responsive opsin proteins into the cells. He used similar genetic modifications to breed animals whose brains contained light-responsive neurons integrated into their circuitry and was the first to demonstrate that the behavior of these animals could be remote-controlled. Miesenböck has received many awards for the invention of optogenetics, including the InBev-Baillet Latour International Health Prize, the Brain Prize, the Heinrich Wieland Prize, the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award, and the Massry Prize. He is a member of the Austrian and German Academies of Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal Society.

I am delighted to be in such good company—and I’m not talking just about my co-laureates. Many of my scientific heroes are among the previous recipients of the Prize.

Gero Miesenböck