MBL Alumnus Receives Shaw Prize for Contributions to Optogenetics

MBL Alumnus Receives Shaw Prize for Contributions to Optogenetics

Giro Miesenböck, an alumnus of the MBL’s Optical Microscopy and Imaging in the Biomedical Sciences course (1994), is a co-recipient of the 2020 Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine for conducting fundamental research in the development of optogenetics, a revolutionary tool in neuroscience research.

Miesenböck, who is based at the University of Oxford, shares the Shaw Prize with Peter Hegemann of Humboldt University of Berlin and Georg Nagel of University of Würzburg.

Developed in the 2000s by scientists who also include MBL faculty alumni Ed Boyden and Karl Deisseroth, optogenetics uses light “to control the activity of individual nerve cells in order to observe the networks in which they communicate and define the processes that they control,” the award announcement states. More on the technology is here.

The Shaw Prize, which carries a monetary award of $1.2 million, “is an international award to honour individuals who are currently active in their respective fields and who have recently achieved distinguished and significant advances, who have made outstanding contributions in academic and scientific research or applications, or who in other domains have achieved excellence.”

Photo: Press conference in Hong Kong announcing the 2020 Shaw Prize recipients.