Gero Miesenböck
  • 2020 Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine


2020 Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine
Waynflete Professor of Physiology and Director of the Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour (CNCB) at the University of Oxford. He has been awarded the 2020 Shaw Prize in Life Sciences and Medicine for his foundational work on "the development of optogenetics, a technology that has revolutionised neuroscience".

Education and Work Experience

1992-1998, Postdoctoral Fellow, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
2004-2007, Associate Professor of Cell Biology and Associate Professor of Cellular and Molecular Physiology of School of Medicine, Yale University
2007-Present, Waynflete Professor of Physiology, Oxford University
2011-Present, Director of Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour (CNCB), Oxford University

Honors and Awards

2015, BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Biomedicine
2017, Member of Academia Europea
2019, Warren Alpert Foundation Prize
2020, Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine

Major Academic Achievements

Miesenböck is known as the founder of optogenetics. He was the first scientist to modify nerve cells genetically so that their electrical activity could be controlled with light. This involved inserting DNA for light-responsive opsin proteins into the cells. Miesenböck used similar genetic modifications to breed animals whose brains contained light-responsive nerve cells integrated into their circuitry, and was the first to demonstrate that the behaviour of these animals could be remote-controlled. The principle of optogenetic control established by Miesenböck has been widely adopted, generalised to other biological systems, and technically improved. Most of Miesenböck's work continues to be done with Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies), where it is possible to gain detailed insight into molecular, cellular, and physiological mechanisms of brain function that may relate to human health.