Professor Gero Miesenböck, Waynflete Professor of Physiology and Co-Director of the Programme on Mind and Machine at the Oxford Martin School has won a BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award for the development of optogenetics. He shares the € 400,000 prize with Edward Boyden of MIT and Karl Deisseroth of Stanford University.
Optogenetics, according to the citation, “has revolutionized the study of brain function and is now used by neuroscientists around the world.” Understanding the brain’s function “would require the development of a technology that allowed the selective control of individual neurons without affecting the activity of others. Optogenetics is this technology: it allows the activation and inactivation of neurons in living animals, and therefore can be used to make causal links between the function of specific neural circuits and distinct behaviors.”
The Frontiers of Knowledge Awards aim “to recognize and encourage world-class research and artistic creation, prizing contributions of lasting impact for their originality, theoretical significance and ability to push back the frontiers of the known world.”