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People Professor Gero Miesenböck FMedSci FRS

Co-Director, Programme on Mind and Machine


Waynflete Professor of Physiology

Gero Miesenböck is Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Mind & Machine, which is part of the Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour. 

He studied medicine at the University of Innsbruck in his native Austria and did postdoctoral research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He was on the faculty of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Yale University before coming to Oxford in 2007. Gero is the founding director of the CNCB. In 2015 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Professor Miesenböck pioneered the science of optogenetics. He established the principles of optogenetic control in 2002, using rhodopsin to activate normally light-insensitive neurons. He was the first to use optogenetics to control behaviour. These seminal experiments have provided a platform for an explosion in optogenetic applications. Recent honours testify to the significance of these findings. Miesenböck has exploited optogenetics in a succession of brilliant experiments illuminating synaptic connectivity, the neural basis of reward, mechanisms of sleep homeostasis and the control of sexually dimorphic circuitry. These incisive contributions to neuroscience have demonstrated the full potential of optogenetics beyond the proof-of-principle stage.