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Gero Andreas Miesenböck FRS[10] (born 15 July 1965)[8] is an Austrian scientist. He is currently Waynflete Professor of Physiology and Director of the Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour (CNCB)[11] at the University of Oxford and a fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford.[12]

Gero Miesenböck
Miesenböck at the Royal Society admissions day in London, July 2015
Gero Andreas Miesenböck

(1965-07-15) 15 July 1965 (age 58)[8][9]
Alma mater
Known forOptogenetics
Scientific career

Education and early life

A native of Austria,[9] Miesenböck was educated at the University of Innsbruck and Umeå University in Sweden.[8] He graduated sub auspiciis praesidentis rei publicae[9] from the University of Innsbruck Medical School. Following his Doctor of Medicine (MD) in 1993,[13] he undertook postdoctoral training with James Rothman.[14][15]

Research and career

Miesenböck is known as the founder of optogenetics.[16][17][18][19][20][21] He was the first scientist to modify nerve cells genetically so that their electrical activity could be controlled with light.[16] This involved inserting DNA for light-responsive opsin proteins into the cells.[16] 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.[17][20][22]

The principle of optogenetic control established by Miesenböck[16][17] has been widely adopted, generalised to other biological systems, and technically improved.[23][24][25] 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.[26]

Before being appointed to the Waynflete Professorship in 2007, Miesenböck held faculty positions at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Yale University.[17] In 2011 he became founding director of the Center for Neural Circuits and Behavior.[27]

Awards and honours

In 2001, he received the Beckman Young Investigators Award.[28] In 2012 Miesenböck was awarded the InBev-Baillet Latour International Health Prize[1] for "pioneering optogenetic approaches to manipulate neuronal activity and to control animal behaviour". In 2013 he shared the Brain Prize[2] with Ernst Bamberg, Edward Boyden, Karl Deisseroth, Peter Hegemann and Georg Nagel, and the Jacob Heskel Gabbay Award in Biotechnology and Medicine[3] with Edward Boyden and Karl Deisseroth. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2015.[10]

His certificate of election reads:

Gero Miesenboeck 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. Miesenboeck 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.[29]

In 2015 he received the Heinrich Wieland Prize[4] "for his breakthrough concept of optogenetics and its proof of principle" and in 2016 the Wilhelm Exner Medal[30]

Miesenböck was elected a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) in 2008,[31] and a member of the Academy of Medical Sciences, United Kingdom in 2012,[8] the Austrian Academy of Sciences in 2014,[32] the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina in 2016,[33] and the Academia Europaea in 2017.[34]

In 2017, Trinity College Dublin awarded him an honorary doctorate.[35]

In 2019, Miesenböck received the Rumford Prize for "extraordinary contributions related to the invention and refinement of optogenetics," with Ernst Bamberg, Ed Boyden, Karl Deisseroth, Peter Hegemann, and Georg Nagel.[6] In the same year, he, Boyden, Deisseroth, and Hegemann won the Warren Alpert Foundation Prize.[7] In 2020 he was awarded the Shaw Prize in Life Sciences,[36] and in 2022 the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize.[37] In 2023 he received the Japan Prize.[38]


  1. ^ a b "Le Prix de la Santé". Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Prize Winners 2013 – Grete Lundbeck European Brain Research Foundation". 15 September 2015. Archived from the original on 13 November 2015. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Past Winners | Brandeis University". Archived from the original on 30 September 2015. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Heinrich Wieland Prize – Heinrich Wieland Prize – Homepage". Archived from the original on 30 October 2015. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  5. ^ "BBVA Awards – 2015 Laureates". Archived from the original on 25 February 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  6. ^ a b "Rumford Prize Awarded for the Invention and Refinement of Optogenetics". American Academy of Arts & Sciences. 30 January 2019. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  7. ^ a b "2019 Warren Alpert Prize Recipients Announced | Warren Alpert Foundation Prize". Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d e "MIESENBÖCK, Prof. Gero". Who's Who. Vol. 2008 (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  9. ^ a b c "Curriculum vitae: Gero Miesenböck, M.D" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 June 2015.
  10. ^ a b Anon (2015). "Professor Gero Miesenböck FMedSci FRS". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 7 October 2015.
  11. ^ "Home". Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour.
  12. ^ "Professor Gero Miesenboeck | University of Oxford".
  13. ^ Miesenböck, Gero Andreas (1991). Relationship of Triglyceride and High Density Lipoprotein Metabolism (MD thesis). University of Innsbruck. ProQuest 303992193.
  14. ^ Miesenbock, G.; Rothman, J. E. (1997). "Patterns of synaptic activity in neural networks recorded by light emission from synaptolucins". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 94 (7): 3402–7. Bibcode:1997PNAS...94.3402M. doi:10.1073/pnas.94.7.3402. PMC 20382. PMID 9096406.
  15. ^ Miesenböck, G.; De Angelis, D. A.; Rothman, J. E. (1998). "Visualizing secretion and synaptic transmission with pH-sensitive green fluorescent proteins". Nature. 394 (6689): 192–195. Bibcode:1998Natur.394..192M. doi:10.1038/28190. PMID 9671304. S2CID 4320849.
  16. ^ a b c d Zemelman, B. V.; Lee, G. A.; Ng, M.; Miesenböck, G. (2002). "Selective photostimulation of genetically chARGed neurons". Neuron. 33 (1): 15–22. doi:10.1016/S0896-6273(01)00574-8. PMID 11779476. S2CID 16391269.
  17. ^ a b c d Lima, S. Q.; Miesenböck, G. (2005). "Remote control of behavior through genetically targeted photostimulation of neurons". Cell. 121 (1): 141–152. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2005.02.004. PMID 15820685. S2CID 14608546.
  18. ^ Miesenböck, G. (2008). "Lighting up the brain". Scientific American. 299 (4): 52–59. Bibcode:2008SciAm.299d..52M. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican1008-52. PMID 18847085.
  19. ^ Miesenböck, G. (2009). "The optogenetic catechism". Science. 326 (5951): 395–399. Bibcode:2009Sci...326..395M. doi:10.1126/science.1174520. PMID 19833960. S2CID 26999050.
  20. ^ a b "Gero Miesenboeck: Re-engineering the brain | TED Talk". Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  21. ^ Zimmer, Carl (12 April 2005). "An Off-or-On Switch for Controlling Animals?". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  22. ^ Boyden, E. S.; Zhang, F.; Bamberg, E.; Nagel, G.; Deisseroth, K. (2005). "Millisecond-timescale, genetically targeted optical control of neural activity". Nature Neuroscience. 8 (9): 1263–1268. doi:10.1038/nn1525. PMID 16116447. S2CID 6809511.
  23. ^ Wells, W. A. (2007). "Gero Miesenböck: Instructing the nervous system". The Journal of Cell Biology. 177 (3): 374–375. doi:10.1083/jcb.1773pi. PMC 2064810. PMID 17485485.
  24. ^ Miesenböck, G. (2011). "Optogenetic control of cells and circuits". Annu. Rev. Cell Dev. Biol. 27: 731–758. doi:10.1146/annurev-cellbio-100109-104051. PMC 3759011. PMID 21819234.
  25. ^ Claridge-Chang, A.; Roorda, R. D.; Vrontou, E.; Sjulson, L.; Li, H.; Hirsh, J.; Miesenböck, G. (2009). "Writing memories with light-addressable reinforcement circuitry". Cell. 139 (2): 405–415. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2009.08.034. PMC 3920284. PMID 19837039.
  26. ^ Gero Miesenböck, retrieved: 24 March 2020 in
  27. ^ "Gero Miesenboeck". Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  28. ^ Anon (2015). "Certificate of election EC/2015/29: Miesenbock, Gero". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 15 October 2015.
  29. ^ "Awardees". Wilmelm Exner Stiftung. Archived from the original on 1 August 2017. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  30. ^ "EMBO MEMBER: Gero Miesenböck". European Molecular Biology Organization. 2016. Archived from the original on 3 February 2016.
  31. ^ Gero Miesenböck. "Korrespondierende Mitglieder der mathematisch-naturwissenschaftlichen Klasse im Ausland". Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  32. ^ "Member Directory: Dr. Gero Miesenböck". (in German). Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  33. ^ "Academy of Europe: Miesenböck Gero".
  34. ^ "Registrar : Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin, Ireland". Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  35. ^ "The Shaw Prize".
  36. ^ Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize 2022
  37. ^ Japan Prize 2023