We want to proudly present you the first speaker of „The COINS 2018” conference – Nobel prize laureate Erwin Neher, who earned this award together with Bert Sakmann in 1991 “for their discoveries concerning the function of single ion channels in cells”.
In 1963 Erwin Neher started studying physics at the ‘Technische Hochschule’ in Munich. Later on, in 1966, he won a Fulbright Scholarship to study in the US at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. At that time he was fully integrated into a biophysics laboratory involved in low angle X-ray scattering. His own research was led by Prof. W.W. Beeman, and it was an early attempt at producing molecular beams of macromolecules for mass spectrometry. Neher returned to Munich in 1967 and started his PhD in Max-Planck-Institut für Psychiatrie, where H.D. Lux was investigating synaptic mechanisms in motoneurones and ion currents in snail neurones. They readily agreed on a project on voltage-clamping snail neurons, where they used suction pipettes for local measurement of current density.
Around that time he met his future colleague Bert Sakmann, who did his PhD in the same institute. He was studying the basic neuronal mechanisms. By that time Erwin Neher was working in a physical chemistry laboratory to get experience with single channel recording in artificial membranes. When he met Bert again in 1973 they soon agreed on collaboration, aiming at the measurement of single channel currents. In 1976, they published the first single channel records while Neher spent a year in the laboratory of Charles F. Stevens at Yale University. Together they developed a method for measuring the extremely weak currents involved in ion transits. These results confirmed that the transit occurs through ion channels – molecules on the surface of cells that under certain conditions allow ions to pass through. This led them to winning the Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1991 “for their discoveries concerning the function of single ion channels in cells”.
You can read more about Erwin Neher here.