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22nd Einstein Lecture: Prof. Dr. Peter Hegemann "OPTOBIO-Berlin: Designing Biology with Light"

Nov 07, 2023 | 06:00 PM s.t.
Prof. Dr. Peter Hegemann

Prof. Dr. Peter Hegemann
Image Credit: HU Berlin

Peter Hegemann is professor of biophysics und Hertie professor of neuroscience at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

The study of light in biology has enjoyed great research interest over the past century, including in Berlin. Otto Warburg laid the groundwork for photosynthesis research with his work in Berlin in the 1940s, but it took until 2020 for scientists to finally understand the mechanisms of photosynthetic water splitting and oxygen evolution, thanks to research carried out by a multidisciplinary team based at Freie Universität Berlin. Berlin-born scientist Max Delbrück also formulated the basic concept of sensory photoreceptors in the 1960s.

Many years of Berlin research on the photoreceptors that enable “seeing” and that control plant development and flowering have fundamentally changed the field of neuroscience through the technique known as optogenetics. Here, photoreceptors are introduced as algae, yeasts, or bacteria into selected cells of neuronal networks in order to target them and control their activity quickly. Specifically, this technique can be used to better understand the brain and our cognitive abilities. OPTOBIO combines photobiology, optogenetics, and high-resolution image processing to harness nature into technology, allowing for countless processes to be controlled in a noninvasive manner using the simple ingredient of light.

Prior registration is required.

About Professor Dr. Peter Hegemann

Hegemann studies sensory photoreceptors and is one of the discoverers of channelrhodopsins, a family of light-activated ion channels. This discovery has opened up new scientific opportunities in the study of neural networks and the emerging field of optogenetics. Hoped-for applications include the recovery of lost vision and the treatment of Parkinson's disease and other neurological disorders using deep brain stimulation.

About Einstein Lectures Dahlem

The Einstein Lectures Dahlem, hosted by Freie Universität Berlin since 2005 in partnership with several external institutions, are dedicated to the epochal work of Albert Einstein. Einstein was the director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Physics for almost two decades.

Time & Location

Nov 07, 2023 | 06:00 PM s.t.

Henry Ford Building
Freie Universität Berlin
Garystr. 35
14195 Berlin

Further Information

The lecture will be held in German without translation.


  • biophysics
  • einstein
  • lecture
  • light
  • optics
  • peter hegemann