Prof. Dr. Peter Hegemann

Prof. Dr. Peter Hegemann

Humboldt-Universität Berlin
Institut für Biologie, Experimentelle Biophysik
Invalidenstraße 42
10115 Berlin
Phone: +49 (30) 2093 8830
Fax: +49 (30) 2093 8520

Research Area

Characterization of natural sensory photoreceptors, Optogenetics

Position and Status

Professor for Experimental Biophysics (W3)

Scholarships and awards

2015    Science Prize of the Mayor of Berlin
2014    Member of the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften
2014    Member of the European Molecular Biology Organization EMBO
2013    “Brain Prize” of the Grete Lundbeck European Brain Research Prize Foundation
2013    Louis-Jeantet Award, Geneva
2013    Leibniz Prize of the German Research Foundation (DFG)
2012    Member of the Deutsche Akademie der Wissenschaften Leopoldina
2012    Zülch Prize for Fundamental Advances in Neurobiology, Cologne
2010    Karl Heinz Beckurts Prize for Basic Research, Munich
2010    "Wiley Prize” for Biomedical Innovation, New York

Academic Education

1980 - 1984   Dissertation with D. Oesterhelt at the Max-Planck-Institute for Biochemistry, Munich. About: “Characterization of the light-driven Cl-pump Halorhodopsin”
1980              Diploma thesis with D. Oesterhelt, at the MPI for Biochemistry, Munich
1975 - 1980   Chemistry studies at University Münster and at LMU München


University Degrees

1992   Habilitation (venia legendi) at the Ludwig-Maximilian-Universität München
1980   Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Max-Planck-Institute for Biochemistry, Munich



2012 -            W3-Professor for Experimental Biophysics at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
2012 -            Visiting scientist at Howard Hughes Medical Instit. Janelia Farm Ashburn,VA, USA
2005 - 2012   C4-Professor for Experimental Biophysics at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
1993 - 2004   C3-Professor for Biochemistry at Universität Regensburg
1985 - 1986   Post Doc with K.W.Foster, Physics Department Syracuse University, NY, USA
1986 - 1992   Independent research group at the MPI for Biochemistry, Munich: "Photoreception of Microalgae"


Research Panels and Collaborating Research Networks

2010 -            Founder and Spokesman of the DFG-FOR1279 “Protein-based photoswitches”
2009 - 2015   DFG-Senatskommission for SFBs
2008 - 2012   Member of the steering committee of the cluster of excellence "Unifying Concepts in Catalysis" (first funding period: 2008-2012)
2004 - 2010   Founder and Spokesman of the DFG-FOR526 "Sensory Blue Light Receptors”
2000 - 2003   Founder and Spokesman of the interdisciplinary Graduate Collegue: "Sensory Photoreceptors in natural and artificial Systems” (GK 640)



2016   Organizer: 17. International Conference on Retinal Proteins (ICRP), Potsdam
2014   Coorganizer: Genetic manipulation of Neural Activity III, HHMI Janelia Farm, USA
2012   Organizer: 103. Dahlem-Conference, Berlin, September 2-5, 2012: “Optogenetics. Challenges and Perspectives”
2012   Coorganizer of the „15th international conference of the Cell and Molecular Biology of Chlamydomonas“, Potsdam
2010   Organizer: International Conference on Channelrhodopsin and light-modulated enzymes: Hiddensee
2008   Organizer: International Conference on Channelrhodopsin and light-modulated enzymes: Frauenchiemsee


  1. Wietek, J., Wiegert, J.S., Adeishvili, N., Schneider, F., Watanabe, H., Tsunoda, S.P., Vogt, A., Elstner, M., Oertner, T.G., Hegemann, P. (2014) Conversion of Channelrhodopsin into a light-gated chloride channel. Science 344, 409-412.
  2. Stierl, M., Stumpf, P., Udwari, D., Gueta, R., Hagedorn, R., Losi, A., Gärtner, W., Petereit, L., Efetova, M., Schwarzel, M., Oertner, T.G., Nagel, G., and Hegemann, P. (2011) Light-modulation of cellular cAMP by a small bacterial photoactivated adenylyl cyclase, bPAC, J. Biol. Chem. 286: 1181-1188.
  3. Yizhar, O., Fenno, L.E., Prigge, M., Schneider, F., Davidson, T.J., O’Shea, D.J., Sohal, V.S., Goshen, I., Finkelstein, J., Paz, J., Stehfest, K., Fudim, R., Ramakrishnan, C., Huguenard, J., Hegemann, P., and Deisseroth, K. (2011) Neocortical excitation/inhibition balance in information processing and social dysfunction. Nature 477,171-178.
  4. Gunaydin, L., Yizhar, O., Berndt, A., Sohal, V., Deisseroth, K., and Hegemann, P. (2010) Ultrafast optogenetics: precise neural control beyond the gamma band. Nature Neurosci. 13, 387-393.
  5. Berndt, A., Yizhar, O., Gunaydin, L., Hegemann, P., and Deisseroth, K. (2009) Bistable neural state switches. Nature Neurosci. 12(2):229-34.
  6. Schröder-Lang, S., Schwärzel, M., Seifert, R., Strünker, T., Kateriya, S., Looser, J., Watanabe, M., Kaupp, B., Hegemann, P., Nagel, G. (2007) Fast manipulation of cellular cAMP level by light in vivo. Nat Methods 4, 39-42. *
  7. Nagel, G., Szellas, T., Huhn, W., Kateriya, S., Adeishvilli, N., Berthold, P., Ollig, D., Hegemann, P., Bamberg, E. (2003) Channelrhodopsin-2, a light-gated cation channel in green algae. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci USA 100 (24), 13940 – 13945.
  8. Nagel, G., Ollig, D., Fuhrmann, M., Kateriya, S., Musti, A.-M., Bamberg, E., Hegemann, P. (2002) Channelrhodopsin-1, a light-gated proton channel in green algae. Science 296, 2395 - 2398.
  9. Harz, H., Nonnengäßer, C., and Hegemann, P. (1992) The photoreceptor current of the green alga Chlamydomonas. Phil. Trans R. Soc. Lond. B. 338, 39-52.
  10. Harz, H. and Hegemann, P. (1991) Rhodopsin-regulated calcium currents in Chlamydomonas. Nature 351, 489-491.

Patents (selection):

  1. Deisseroth, K., Yizhar, Fenno, L., Hegemann, P., Prigge, M.: Light activated chimeric opsins and methods of using the same. WO Patent 2,012,061,676. (2012)
  2. Deisseroth, K., Yizhar, O., Gunaydin, L., Hegemann, P., Berndt, A. Optically based stimulation of target cells and modifications thereto. US Patent App. 13/128,979; WO Patent: WO/2010/056,970. EP Patent 2,356,134. (2011)
  3. PI10216005.8 (2002): EP: 1 492 881 (2008), EP: 2112510 (2009), B1: US 7824869 (2010): Hegemann, Nagel, Bamberg: Verwendung von biologischen Photorezeptoren als direkt lichtgesteuerte Ionenkanäle. The use of biological photoreceptors as light-gated ion channels.