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Our speakers

Dr. Peter Hagemann

Peter Hegemann is a Hertie professor for neuroscience and head of Experimental Biophysics at Humboldt-Universitaet zu Berlin. In 2019 he won a Warren Alpert Foundation Prize for the discovery that lead to the new technology – optogenetics. Hegemann’s research focused almost entirely on the characterization of natural sensory photoreceptors. Hegemann has characterized behavioral and photoelectric responses of the unicellular alga Chlamydomonas, a work that cumulated in the claim that the photoreceptors for these responses a rhodopsins that unify the sensor and ion channel in one protein. He has finally proven this concept by identifying the light gated channel channelrhodopsin, and its functionality in animal cells. His group characterized this protein in molecular detail by a wide range of biophysical techniques which lead to the deciphering of the ion channel mechanism, including gating and ion selection. This work was the basis for the discovery of Optogenetics, a technology where light activated proteins – first of all channelrhodopsin – allow to control selected cells of large networks as the animal brain with unprecedented precision in space and time just by application of light. The Hegemann group also works on light-activated enzymes which further expand the optogenetic applications to important biochemical pathways.

Dr. Skirmantas Kriaučionis

Skirmantas Kriaučionis is an Associate Professor in University of Oxford, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. After graduating from Vytautas Magnus University he got Darwin Trust Scholarship for doctoral studies in the University of Edinburgh. Post-doctoral work he did in Rockefeller University in New York. Since 2010 he has established a group in Oxford, where his work aims do understand the function of DNA modification in genomes of normal and cancer cells.

Marius Bauža

Marius Bauža is a senior research fellow in O’Keefe group (which received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2014). He has a background in physics (Vilnius University) and engineering (University College London) and for the last several years has used his expertise to study how the brain works. He takes part in developing, testing and using Neuropixels silicon probes. These high-density probes can record neural activity from an unprecedented number of cells and could potentially open a new era of chronic and acute electrophysiology recordings from awake animals. Marius has already used these probes to show that grid cell pattern is more local than previously thought. Patterns of simultaneously recorded grids deform in sync, suggesting that the grid cell system could still act as a universal spatial metric. He is actively participating in studying the neural basis of spatial cognition in the hippocampal and parahippocampal formations. In addition, he is participating in other cutting edge research projects, such as the Honeycomb Maze behavioural test platform.